May 15, 2015 / 2:58 AM / 2 years ago

Honda exec says latest air bag-linked recall may impact Japan sales

3 Min Read

A logo of Takata Corp is seen with its display at a showroom for vehicles in Tokyo, Japan, May 8, 2015.Yuya Shino

TOKYO (Reuters) - Honda Motor Co could see an impact on sales in Japan from its plans to recall some 5 million cars to replace potentially fatal air bags made by Japan's Takata Corp, a top executive said on Friday.

Senior Managing Officer Sho Minekawa, who oversees Honda's domestic sales operations, told reporters the recall announced a day earlier was a precautionary measure and investigations into the cause of the problem were still ongoing.

"There may be some impact (on sales in Japan) but we want to make sure we take the right steps," Minekawa said at the launch of Honda's new Shuttle hybrid model.

Honda's move follows a recall announced this week by rivals Toyota Motor Corp and Nissan Motor Co of some 6.5 million vehicles.

It also comes after investigations showed that some Takata air bag inflators were not sealed properly, allowing moisture to seep into the propellant casing, that could make the air bag explode with excessive force.

Some 36 million vehicles globally have been recalled since 2008 for issues linked to Takata air bags, at the center of one of the world's biggest auto safety crises.

The tally could rise after Japan's transport minister said the government would ask other automakers to consider recalls of cars equipped with Takata's inflators made during the same time period as the cars covered by the latest recall. The automakers and Takata have not disclosed the time period.

Six deaths have been linked to the defective air bags, all on cars made by Honda, which has borne the brunt of the Takata recalls to date, and which posted disappointing profit forecasts last month citing high quality-related costs.

Minekawa said Honda would negotiate how to share the burden of the costs with Takata only after the cause of the problem is identified and linked back to the supplier.

Takata, in turn, has said it had no immediate plans to set aside more reserves for the fresh recalls - totaling more than 11 million vehicles - since a defect had not been officially identified.

Takata shares, which fell more than 7 percent early on Friday, were trading down 3 percent at 0548 GMT.

Reporting by Maki Shiraki and Chang-Ran Kim; Writing by Chang-Ran Kim; Editing by Miral Fahmy

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