Toyota expands Takata air bag recall in Japan, China

Thu Dec 4, 2014 3:58am EST
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By Mari Saito and Chang-Ran Kim

TOKYO (Reuters) - Toyota Motor Corp (7203.T: Quote) said on Thursday it would call back 190,000 more vehicles to replace potentially defective air bags made by Takata Corp (7312.T: Quote), and Japan's regulator said it may change its recall system to better respond to what it called an "unprecedented" crisis.

The transport ministry, which also acts as the auto industry regulator, told reporters it was considering revising parts of the existing recall system, but gave no details.

"Changing the law would be a lot more involved, but there are things we can change outside the law," said Masato Sahashi, head of the ministry's recall division. "What we're considering is not something that would take as long as a month or two."

In the United States, the auto safety regulator, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), has come under fire for not moving quickly enough to ensure wider recalls of cars fitted with possibly defective air bags.

Toyota's recall follows an explosion of a Takata-made air bag inflator in a 2003-model Toyota subcompact at a scrapyard in Japan last month, though the cause of the potential problem is still unknown, the ministry said.

Toyota said it would recall 185,000 vehicles across 19 models including the Corolla and Alphard in Japan, and 5,000 in China, as a preventative measure and to investigate the cause. It said it was not aware of injuries or deaths related to the problem. The vehicles subject to the recall were produced between September 2002 and December 2003.

Toyota said the recall covers vehicles of the same model year as the Will Cypha car that exploded in a scrapyard last month and that were equipped with the same type of inflator. Those inflators were made at Takata's Monclova factory in Mexico, it said.

The Mexican government is requesting information from Takata's local unit to determine which car models have used its products. Takata has until Friday to respond to the request.   Continued...

A Toyota car is seen during a presentation of the car maker's active safety support systems technology in Tokyo, November 26, 2014.  REUTERS/Thomas Peter