Japan carmakers recall 3.4m unsafe vehicles

Updated: 2013-04-12 09:39


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In July and August 2012 in Japan, at scrap yards where airbags were being recycled, officials noted that airbags in some Honda vehicles deployed "strangely," adding to the probe, a US spokesman for Honda said.

Industry officials said the elapsed time between the first report of a problem and the announcement of the recall was not unusual because companies typically search for patterns and  possible causes of problems before launching a recall.

Toyota said in NHTSA documents that it also received a report in October 2011 about an accident in Japan related to the issue. The automaker then asked Takata to investigate, but through August 2011 no abnormalities were found with 66 recovered inflators.

In September 2012, Toyota said it received reports of three vehicles in the US market with fractured inflators, and the automaker asked Takata to study 144 parts that were recovered.

In February 2013, Takata said the inflators were cracked, possibly because of lower material density increasing pressure on the part, so Toyota asked the supplier to determine if a trend was developing, according to NHTSA documents. On April 5, Toyota decided to conduct its recall, three days after Takata said certain inflators could be faulty.

Tokyo-based Takata said it supplies airbags and seatbelts to major automakers including Daimler AG and Ford Motor Co as well as the Japanese brands.

Some non-Japanese automakers were also supplied with the faulty airbags, Takata spokesman Toyohiro Hishikawa said. He declined to name those automakers.  

General Motors Co said Takata is a supplier, but that the problem affected only about 55,000 Pontiac Vibe cars from model year 2003 built for the US and Canadian markets. The cars were assembled at the Fremont, California, plant GM previously ran in a joint venture with Toyota and were included in Toyota's total recall number, a GM spokesman said. GM dealers will service its cars.

BMW has an undetermined number of vehicles affected by the recall, a US spokesman for Takata said.

Officials with Chrysler, Daimler, Ford, PSA Peugeot Citroen , Renault SA and Volkswagen AG  said they were not affected because they did not use the airbags covered by the recall. India's Tata Motors Ltd and its Jaguar Land Rover unit said they are not affected.

A Takata spokesman in the United States said no other customers were affected. Italy's Fiat SpA and India's Maruti Suzuki said Takata is not a supplier.


Between 2008 and 2011, Honda was forced to recall about 2.8 million vehicles after finding a defect with driver-side airbags supplied by Takata.

"When the last recall took place, we inspected everything such as the site of manufacturing, but we were not able to identify this problem," said Hideyuki Matsumoto, another spokesman for Takata.

The present recall, announced during Japanese trading hours, hit Takata's shares harder than stock prices of automakers, who  typically carry reserves for recalls and warranty costs.

It is the largest recall for Takata since 1995 when the company was involved in a recall of more than 8 million vehicles because of defective seatbelts.

Shares in Toyota, Honda, Nissan and Mazda, which continue to be supported by a weakening yen, were up between 3.1 and 5.8 percent, outpacing a 2 percent rise in the benchmark Nikkei. ($1 = 99.5050 Japanese yen)


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