U.S. calls for urgent repairs of 300,000 recalled Honda vehicles

Thu Jun 30, 2016 3:49pm EDT
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By David Shepardson

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. auto safety regulators warned on Thursday that Takata air bag inflators on more than 300,000 unrepaired recalled Honda vehicles show a substantial risk of rupturing, and urged owners to stop driving the "unsafe" cars until they have been fixed.

The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) cited new test data that shows some 313,000 2001-2003 model Honda and Acura vehicles have as high as a 50 percent chance of a dangerous air bag inflator rupture in a crash.

Takata air bag inflators have been linked to as many as 14 deaths worldwide, including 13 in Honda Motor Co (7267.T: Quote) vehicles, because they can deploy with too much force sending deadly metal fragments flying, the company and U.S. investigators say.

"With as high as a 50 percent chance of a dangerous air bag inflator rupture in a crash, these vehicles are unsafe and need to be repaired immediately,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. "Folks should not drive these vehicles unless they are going straight to a dealer to have them repaired immediately, free of charge."

Honda said in a statement that it agreed with the analysis of testing and the 313,000 vehicles "should only be driven to a dealer in order to have their Takata air bag inflators replaced as rapidly as possible."

Takata Corp (7312.T: Quote) said in a statement it supports efforts to boost recall completon rates and is continuing "to dedicate significant resources to maximize recall completion rates."

Honda said it was recently informed by NHTSA of the analysis of the front driver air bag inflators on 2001-2003 vehicles tested in Florida over the last few months. The analysis revealed a very high rupture rate in laboratory testing, it said.

Honda has already repaired more than 70 percent of the original group of 1.08 million vehicles recalled with this specific version of inflator.   Continued...

People are reflected on a Honda Motor car outside the company's showroom in Tokyo, Japan, May 13, 2016.   REUTERS/Toru Hanai