July 21, 2017 / 3:41 PM / in 3 months

Ford to petition to avoid U.S. recall of 2.5 million vehicles

The logo of Ford is seen during the 87th International Motor Show at Palexpo in Geneva, Switzerland March 8, 2017. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Ford Motor Co (F.N) will petition to avoid a U.S. recall of about 2.5 million vehicles with Takata 7312.T air-bag inflators that the Japanese auto supplier declared defective last week, U.S. regulators and the automaker said on Friday.

Separately, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said Nissan Motor Co (7201.T) agreed to recall 515,394 2007-2011 Versa cars after Takata declared 2.7 million vehicles to have potentially defective inflators.

Ford spokesman John Cangany said the automaker will file a petition requesting “to continue testing and analyzing our inflators.” The NHTSA said the petition will seek an exemption from the recall because Ford believes the issue is inconsequential.

Ford said the issue covers 2.5 million vehicles, including the 2007-11 Ranger, 2006-12 Fusion and Lincoln MKZ, 2006-11 Mercury Milan, and 2007-10 Ford Edge and Lincoln MKX. Ford previously said it covered about 2.2 million vehicles.

Last week, the NHTSA said that new testing prompted Takata to declare inflators defective in Ford, Nissan and Mazda Motor Corp (7261.T) vehicles in some driver-side air bags built from 2012 through 2015.

The NHTSA said in a statement on Friday that “testing data shows that the propellant in this inflator is degrading and on the path towards potential ruptures in the future. There are no reported ruptures in the real-world or in testing.”

Takata air bag inflators are already linked to 17 deaths and more than 180 injuries worldwide, and the recalls will eventually cover about 125 million inflators.

Nissan said last week it would recall 627,000 Versa cars from the 2007-12 model years, including 515,000 in the United States “out of an abundance of caution.”

Nissan said testing of 895 inflators showed no ruptures, while one “exhibited an elevated internal pressure.” Takata said the inflators potentially could rupture “after several years of exposure to high absolute humidity.”

Mazda said last week the issue impacts just 6,000 of 2007-09 B-series trucks that were built under a previous Ford partnership. The company said on Friday that it also plans to file a petition to avoid a recall.

Ford shares fell 1.5 percent on Friday to close at $11.53.

The automakers have 30 days to submit their petitions, and the NHTSA will then take public comment before making a decision.

More than 65 percent of 46.2 million previously recalled Takata airbag inflators in the United States have not been repaired. The issue is the largest-ever auto-safety recall, covering 17 automakers.

Takata filed for bankruptcy protection in June.

Editing by Bernadette Baum and Leslie Adler

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