Takata doubling U.S. recall for defective air bags to 34 million vehicles

Wed May 20, 2015 2:41pm EDT
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By David Morgan and Ben Klayman

WASHINGTON/DETROIT (Reuters) - Japanese air bag manufacturer Takata Corp (7312.T: Quote) is doubling a recall of potentially deadly air bags to nearly 34 million vehicles, making it the largest automotive recall in American history, U.S. safety regulators said on Tuesday.

The recall involves passenger- and driver-side air bag inflators in vehicles made by 11 automakers, the U.S. Department of Transportation, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and Takata said. It expands on the 16.6 million vehicles called back for repairs for the same issue in previous regional and national recalls, and boosts the number of vehicles affected globally since 2008 to more than 53 million.

Regulators linked six deaths worldwide to defective Takata air bags which exploded too violently and shot shrapnel into the vehicles.

Takata CEO Shigehisa Takada said in a statement: "We are pleased to have reached this agreement with NHTSA, which represents a clear path forward." The company declined to say whether markets outside the United States would be affected.

It was only under pressure from U.S. regulators that Takata agreed to the expanded recall. It had previously resisted expanding the recalls, saying the defect cited by automakers was not "officially recognized."

Toyota Motor Corp (7203.T: Quote), Nissan Motor Co (7201.T: Quote) and Honda Motor Co (7267.T: Quote) had expanded their Takata recalls over the past week.

The automakers have said they decided to proceed with their recalls after finding some Takata air bag inflators were not sealed properly, allowing moisture to seep in to the propellant casing. Moisture damages the propellant and can lead to an inflator exploding with too much force.

The six deaths linked to the defective air bags have all been in cars made by Honda, Takata's biggest customer, which has borne the brunt of the recalls to date.   Continued...

A deployed Takata manufactured airbag is seen on the driver's side of a 2007 Dodge Charger at a recycled auto parts lot in Detroit, Michigan May 20, 2015. REUTERS/Rebecca Cook