TOKYO— Toyota Motor Corp.
and Nissan Motor Co.
said Wednesday they are recalling a total of 6.56 million vehicles world-wide after finding a risk of moisture intrusion on certain types of air bags made by Takata Corp.
The Toyota recall of around 5 million vehicles globally affects 35 models produced between March 2003 and November 2007, including 1.36 million units in Japan and 637,000 in the U.S.
Nissan separately announced a recall of 1.56 million vehicles made between 2004 and 2007, affecting 288,000 cars in Japan, 326,000 in North America and 563,000 in Europe.
The recalls come in addition to the around 25 million vehicles already recalled by more than 10 auto makers over Takata-made air bags since late 2008. At least six deaths have been linked to air-bag explosions.
“Among the parts collected from the Japanese market, certain types of air-bag inflaters were found to have a potential for moisture intrusion over time,” Toyota said in a statement. “As a result, they could be susceptible to abnormal deployment in a crash. The relationship of moisture intrusion, if any, to the risk of inflater rupture is not known.”
Air bag inflaters contain propellants, which are explosives that emit gas and fill up the air bag. If moisture seeps inside air bag inflaters, it could damage propellants, which then could lead to too much gas being emitted too quickly and prompt the metal casing of the inflater to explode.
Takata uses ammonium-nitrate based propellants, which experts say tends to be sensitive to absorbing moisture. Rivals including Daicel Corp.
do not use ammonium nitrate in their propellant chemical mix, industry insiders say.
Toyota plans to replace driver-side air bag inflaters with ones made by Daicel, while replacing passenger-seat air bag inflaters with newly manufactured Takata ones.
Nissan also reported that the auto maker found a similar defect on a passenger-side air bag.
“The recalls are made by auto makers as a pre-emptive measure…there have been no reports of any new accident” related to Takata-made air bags, said an official at Japan’s Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism.
In March, Takata’s chairman and chief executive Shigehisa Takada said an investigation being conducted by Germany’s Fraunhofer Institute on behalf of Takata was in line with the company’s initial analysis that age and long-term exposure over many years to persistent heat and humidity were significant factors in the air-bag inflater malfunctions.
“Takata will give full cooperation to the auto makers,” a Takata spokeswoman said, refraining from making any further comments.
The additional recalls compound the challenges for Takata, which aims to return to profit this business year ending March 2016
The embattled auto safety parts maker forecasts a net profit of ¥20 billion ($170 million) this fiscal year on a solid rebound in demand in the Asian and North American markets, compared with a ¥29.6 billion net loss in the 12 months to March 31.
Auto makers that have recalled vehicles over the faulty air bags are a jointly conducting their own probe into the root cause of the problems, working with aerospace systems company Orbital ATK.
Honda Motor Co.
, Takata’s biggest customer, is also looking into the air-bag problems together with engineering firm Exponent. Auto safety regulators in the U.S. and Japan are also investigating.
—Yoko Kubota contributed to this article.
Write to Megumi Fujikawa at firstname.lastname@example.org