Regulators say 85 million U.S. Takata air bags may still face recall

Wed Apr 13, 2016 11:36pm EDT
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By David Shepardson

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. auto safety regulators said on Wednesday there were about 85 million unrecalled Takata Corp (7312.T: Quote) air bag inflators in U.S. vehicles that would eventually need to be recalled unless the company can prove they are safe.

This is the first public accounting by the U.S. government of the total number of unrecalled Takata air bag inflators. So far 28.8 million in the United States have been recalled due to the risk that they can explode with too much force and spray metal shards inside vehicles.

More than 11 people have been killed worldwide in incidents linked to defective Takata inflators, including the March 31 death of a 17-year-old driver in Texas. Globally, more than 50 million have been recalled.

Further recalls would add to already hefty estimated bills for the Japanese parts maker.

Analysts have estimated that if Takata is found to be solely responsible for the fault in the inflators, now the subject of several industry investigations, it could face a bill of more than $3.5 billion for inflators recalled to date.

Takata declined to comment on the issue on Thursday.

Under an agreement signed last year, the company has until 2019 to demonstrate that all of its unrecalled air bag inflators are safe.

The prospect of ballooning recall costs has prompted Takata to look for a financial backer and it plans to draw up a list of candidates by August, two people familiar with the matter said on Tuesday.   Continued...

An airbag logo is seen on a steering wheel of Honda Motor Co's all-new hybrid sedan "Grace", which installed the airbag made by Takata Corp, during its unveiling event in Tokyo December 1, 2014. REUTERS/Toru Hanai