Global recall on airbags

Honda and other Japanese car makers have recalled more vehicles with potentially explosive airbags supplied by Takata Corporation to bring the total recall so far to about 10.5 million units over the past five years.

The series of recalls cover passenger-side and driver-side airbags, which the world’s second-biggest car safety parts supplier made from 2000-02. The total ranks it among the five biggest recalls in the industry’s history.

But the total is likely to grow further with Takata willing to support marques, including Honda, Toyota, Chrysler and Ford, in replacing certain airbag inflators it made in 2000-07 for vehicles in some high-humidity regions.

Honda is recalling about 2.03 million vehicles globally over potentially flawed inflators in risk of exploding. This expands a recall from April 2013. It cited how explosive material used to inflate Takata passenger-side airbags had been handled and processed in 2000-02 at plants in the US and Mexico.

Nissan, meanwhile, is recalling 755,000 units worldwide and Mazda is calling back 159,807.

Takata CEO Shigehisa Takada and chief operating officer Stefan Stocker says the company is working with safety regulators and car makers. “We will aim to strengthen our quality control system and work to prevent problems from happening again,” they say.

Takata has also asked multiple car makers to co-operate on investigations related to vehicles sold in the US that carry inflators, some of made after 2002.

The recalls come as General Motors is under scrutiny over why it took more than a decade to discover a faulty ignition switch linked to at least 13 deaths.

Monday’s announcements follow Toyota’s recall last week. Before then, the four Japanese car makers and BMW had recalled 7.6 million units with potentially defective airbags. Short of replacement parts, the marques will turn off airbags in Japan as customers return vehicles.

Earlier this month, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) in the US started to investigate if Takata inflators made after 2002 are prone to fail and if high-humidity driving contributes to the risk of airbag explosions.

In a letter to the NHTSA dated June 11, Takata states it will support “regional campaigns” to replace certain driver-side airbag inflators made between January 2004 and June 2007, and certain passenger-side inflators made from June 2000 to July 2004. Takata believes they were supplied to BMW, Chrysler, Ford, Honda, Mazda, Nissan and Toyota for vehicles sold in the US.

Among previous large-scale recalls, about 14 million Fords were affected over 10 years to 2009 because of faulty cruise-control deactivation switches. From 2009, Toyota recalled more than nine million units related to unintended acceleration and, in 2012, recalled more than 7.4 million to repair power-window switches.

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