Explosive risk: Takata recalls almost 34 mn cars in US due to faulty airbags

Reuters/Toru Hanai
Japanese air bag manufacturer Takata Corp has issued the largest product recall in the US history on Tuesday to fix faulty air bags in 33.8 million cars, including Honda and Toyota makes. The move comes after pressure from American regulators.

The airbags were considered dangerous due to risk of explosions of an unpredictable force, which could cause injury or death to the passengers seated in the front of the vehicles.

So far, six individuals have been killed and over 100 others injured worldwide because of shrapnel hitting people after such explosions. Many more are thought to be at risk.

Takata’s move extends its existing regional recalls in the US to the national level, the American Department of Transportation has confirmed, adding that Takata acknowledged the airbags’ defects. The majority of previous recalls have targeted only the southern states because humidity was believed to be the key factor connected to explosions.

“Today is a major step forward for public safety,” US Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said in a statement. “The Department of Transportation is taking the proactive steps necessary to ensure that defective inflators are replaced with safe ones as quickly as possible, and that the highest risks are addressed first. We will not stop our work until every air bag is replaced.”

READ MORE: Honda recalls further 4.9mn vehicles with Takata airbags as safety crisis grows

The US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) site provides all the details about the Takata recalls.

Some of the automakers affected include Honda Motor Co., Toyota Motor Corp., General Motors Co. and Daimler AG trucks. Cars equipped with Takata’s faulty air bags represent nearly 14 percent of the vehicles in the US, The Wall Street Journal reported.

The problem with the air bags has to do with the inflator propellants, which with time and certain temperature levels become susceptible to “over-aggressive combustion” that can alter the force of the explosion, according to Takata.

“We have worked extensively with NHTSA and our automaker customers over the past year to collect and analyze a multitude of testing data in an effort to support actions that work for all parties and, most importantly, advance driver safety,” chairman and CEO of Takata Corporation, Shigehisa Takada, said in a statement. “We are committed to continuing to work closely with NHTSA and our automaker customers to do everything we can to advance the safety of drivers.”

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The decision to recall millions of cars in the US comes in response to months of pressure put on Takata by the NHTSA. The Japanese air bag maker has been fined $14,000 a day since Feb 20 for dumping millions of documents on the agency, which it then had to sort through to determine which were relevant to the investigation.

The expanded recall in the US follows Honda, Toyota and Nissan’s announcement regarding faulty air bags in more than 33 million cars. Nearly 20 million vehicles are from Honda, another 8.1 million from Toyota and about 4 million from Nissan.

This is the largest recall in the American market’s history, beating the early 1980s incident when around 31 million bottles of Tylenol were recalled after cases of cyanide poisoning due to drug tampering were uncovered.