Faulty Takata air bags prompt expanded Toyota recall

Wed Jun 11, 2014 3:36pm EDT
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By Yoko Kubota and Ben Klayman

TOKYO/DETROIT (Reuters) - Takata Corp's (7312.T: Quote) safety crisis deepened on Wednesday after Toyota Motor Corp (7203.T: Quote) recalled almost 2.3 million vehicles globally, many for the second time, and the Japanese air bag maker warned that further fixes may be needed.

Toyota, the world's largest automaker, called back 1.62 million vehicles outside of Japan that it recalled last year as well as 650,000 more in Japan not previously recalled. The additional vehicles brought to more than 7 million the total number of cars equipped with Takata air bags to be called back worldwide over the last five years.

The 2.3 million cars, many of them sold in the United States, are being recalled to replace faulty air bag inflators.

Also on Wednesday, U.S. safety regulators at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration opened an investigation into vehicles equipped with Takata air bags.

Takata, the world's No. 2 manufacturer of auto safety equipment, said other automakers may have to issue recalls because of problems with tracking potential defects related to air bag inflators that date back over a decade.

Toyota expanded its recall because Takata said it had discovered record-keeping errors at a Mexican plant where potentially faulty air bag inflators were made in 2001 and 2002.

While Toyota’s recall covers passenger side air bags, NHTSA investigation documents cited reports of both driver and passenger side air bags not working properly or rupturing. Takata said it was cooperating with NHTSA's probe but declined to comment further.

Toyota's expanded recall comes at a time when General Motors Co (GM.N: Quote) is under intense scrutiny over why it took more than a decade to discover a defective ignition switch linked to at least 13 deaths.   Continued...

A receptionist sits below a logo of Toyota Motor Corp at the company's showroom in Tokyo May 8, 2014.  REUTERS/Toru Hanai