Not quite a decade ago, the potential for defective Takata Corp. air bags to explode in a crash erupted into the global auto industry’s most complex and far-reaching safety crisis in history. Roughly 100 million of them were recalled worldwide. But Ruy Drisaldi, a 42-year-old originally from Buenos Aires, Argentina, never learned of the risks until last December, when the air bag in his wife’s used Honda CR-V exploded after another car backed into hers near their home in the southeastern Mexican city of Merida, killing her.
Neither Drisaldi nor his wife, Janett Perez, an American citizen, had received a single warning about the recall, he says. “Someone needs to be held responsible,” he says. “You buy a car with air bags and assume you’re protected. I now realize all the years we had that car, we were driving with a gun pointed to our heads.”
Although the Takata callbacks have largely faded from the public eye in much of the world, Drisaldi’s story is a reminder that the defective parts continue to put drivers at risk. As of early July, more than 14 million still hadn’t been fixed in the U.S. alone, in addition to an unknown but likely substantial number in the rest of the world. That means that millions of car owners like Drisaldi—especially in countries with weak consumer protections—may remain unaware that the propellant used in their cars’ air bags could be degrading as a result of heat and humidity, turning their vehicles into potential explosion hazards.
At least 37 fatalities and 450 injuries allegedly linked to the defective parts worldwide have been reported to U.S. auto safety regulators. Of the deaths, 19 were in the U.S., while others have been reported from all corners of the globe, including in French Guiana, Nigeria, Brazil, Australia, and China.
Perez’s death, caused by a piece of metal that ruptured the bag and struck her neck, added Mexico to the fatalities list. The next day, a friend from Argentina sent Drisaldi a news clip about the exploding Takata air bag inflators and the worldwide recall that ultimately sent the company into bankruptcy. Honda Motor Co. later confirmed that the driver side air bag in Perez’s SUV exploded.
Continue reading your story on the app
Continue reading your story in the magazine
A Crash Course in Omicronomics
Sussing out the impact of the new coronavirus variant on growth and inflation
The New Fighter At the CFPB
Rohit Chopra wants to know more about tech companies’ plans for financial products
Next on Your Plate: Bug Burgers
The faux-meat industry is starting to explore fruit fly patties and mealworm nuggets
Ready Aim Omicron!
Drugmakers always knew variants would arise. The latest will test their preparedness
Crossing Borders With Crypto
A Mexico-based startup says it can send remittances from the U.S. cheaper and faster
Treasure Hunters Of the Stalled Supply Chain
For salvage companies, an unclaimed shipping container is a potentially profitable mystery box
In the EV Age, Hyundai Still Has High Hopes for Hydrogen Cars
The South Korean automaker sees fuel-cell technology as key to decarbonizing global transportation
The Next Accounting Fiasco
Twenty years after Enron’s failure, investors are still vulnerable to corporate numbers games
When Same-Day Delivery Is Too Slow
Gopuffis trying to outrace its competitors in the “dark convenience store” business
The Most Broken Business in America
Biden’s Build Back Better plan may make day care more affordable for parents—if the providers don’t go belly up first
2021: A Space Reality
The Rising Battle of Conquering Consumer Space Travel
On Location in Mexico S.W.A.T.
A nameless stranger rolls into town and unexpectedly saves the day. It's easy to see how the 1985 Clint Eastwood Western Pale Rider inspired the drama's cinematic two-part premiere-even if gunslinger heroics are the last thing on Hondo's (Shemar Moore) mind when we catch up with him.
When we were kids, we had a cocker spaniel aboard during summer cruises. The dog apparently had a massive bladder, but we kids were happy to row her ashore when nature called. We thought boating with a pet was terrific…but did our folks have a voice in the matter?
THE MANY BENEFITS OF EPAZOTE
A TASTY ADDITION TO YOUR MEDICAL KIT
MEXICO TRUCK INVASION
CULTURE-SPECIFIC CLASSICS AND CUSTOMS
‘FOREVER PURGE' GETS POLITICAL ON SOUTHERN BORDER
“The Forever Purge” is set along the U.S.-Mexican border and it’s perhaps the most overtly political of the series, portraying a ragtag group of Americans trying to flee the anarchy and white supremacy of Texas for the safety of Mexico as the annual U.S. bloodlust event turns into an everyday abomination.
What happened when some indigenous people took their lands back from the state
Poverty Soars in the World's Most Unequal Region
THE COVID-19 pandemic has sent a wave of poverty racing across Latin America, deepening declines that began over the past decade and consigning millions to lives of deprivation.
GETTING TO KNOW CHEF FRANCISCO ALEJANDRI VAZQUEZ
He left behind the kitchens of some of the best hotels in Mexico and journeyed to Canada. Founder of acclaimed Toronto restaurant Agave y Aguacate (now closed, as he recently moved back to Mexico), he sat down with us to talk about his journey.
TRIED AND TESTED HOTEL: ME Cabo, Cabo San Lucas, Mexico
BEST FOR World-famous views of El Arco with a beautiful stretch of beach and oceanfront pool