The Transportation Department announced Tuesday that a major Japanese maker of automotive air bags has agreed to nearly double the scope of its recall, making it one of the largest in U.S. history.
In agreeing to a consent order that increases the number of air bags under recall to 33.8 million in the U.S. Japan’s Takata, a major auto industry supplier, agrees to a massive recall that it has previously fought. It issued a statement that, while not directly acknowledging its products are defective, indicated that it is cooperating with the government.
It expands regional recalls to make them national, adding about 16 million more vehicles to recall tally that had already hit 17 million.
The Transportation Department “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,” said Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx in a statement. “We will not stop our work until every air bag is replaced.”
Even before the announcement Tuesday, 10 automakers had announced individual recalls around the air bags in the U.S.
The air bags are being recalled because they can spew plastic or metal shrapnel when they deploy in an accident. Six deaths are blamed on faulty Takata bags, five in the USA and one in Malaysia. All involved Hondas.
In the U.S., not all of the recalls have been nationwide up until now. Many focused on mostly Southern states where humidity was thought to have been a factor in the deadly air bag deployments.
Analysts say the announcement amounts to a major event in the long-running concern over Takata air bags.
“A recall of this scope illustrates the potential for massive automaker expense and consumer inconvenience when a common, mass-produced part is defective,” says Karl Brauer, senior analyst for Kelley Blue Book, in a statement. “While this is the largest consumer recall in history it’s likely we’ll see future vehicle recalls of similar, if not larger, size as the automotive industry becomes more globalized.”
Just last week, Toyota and Nissan vastly expanded their global recalls of Takata air bags, adding more than 6.5 million vehicles to the recalls. That encompassed more than 17 million vehicles from multiple automakers in the USA and around the world. Honda, the automaker hit hardest by the air bag recalls, announced more as well, although no new recalls in the U.S.
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