Congress sets hearing on Takata, automakers expand recalls
By Bernie Woodall
DETROIT (Reuters) - Five automakers on Thursday widened recalls of cars and trucks with Takata Corp (7312.T: Quote) air bags and the U.S. Congress set a hearing next week on the safety issue that has been linked to six deaths.
Takata last week complied with demands of U.S. safety regulators and doubled the vehicles to be involved in air bag recalls to 34 million, making it the largest recall in American history. The total number globally is more than 53 million vehicles.
The air bags are at risk of exploding with too much force and spewing metal fragments inside the car, regulators say. All six deaths linked to the problem were in Honda Motor Co Ltd (7267.T: Quote) vehicles.
The recalls announced on Thursday by Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCAU.N: Quote) (FCHA.MI: Quote), Honda, BMW (BMWG.DE: Quote), Ford Motor Co (F.N: Quote) and Mitsubishi Motors Corp (7211.T: Quote) are included in the figures issued last week by Takata and U.S. regulator the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Automakers, regulators and Takata have yet to identify the root cause of the problem.
A hearing billed as an update on the Takata safety issue will be held next Tuesday afternoon by the U.S. House Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing and Trade.
U.S. Representative Fred Upton, a Michigan Republican, said on Thursday: "When an air bag – a device built to enhance motorist safety – is actually putting families in peril, we can’t wait years for a fix."
U.S. lawmakers have complained that both Takata and NHTSA were mishandling the air bag safety issue. NHTSA has tried to show its bite under new head Mark Rosekind, who took the helm in January. Continued...