(Adds details on Nissan models affected)
By Chang-Ran Kim and Mari Saito
TOKYO May 13 (Reuters) – Japan’s three biggest carmakers
are expanding a huge global recall triggered by potentially
fatal air bags made by Takata Corp, saying on Wednesday
they will take back millions of vehicles worldwide for
Toyota Motor Corp and Nissan Motor Co said
they are recalling some 6.5 million vehicles globally, while
Honda Motor Co Ltd said it would follow suit, without
Wednesday’s announcements raise to roughly 31 million the
number of vehicles recalled worldwide since 2008 over Takata air
bag inflators, which can erupt with too much force, spraying
shrapnel inside the car.
The Takata-linked recalls top the largest U.S. recall of 21
million vehicles by Ford Motor Co in the 1980s for a
parking gear problem, according to U.S. safety regulators and
safety advocates. General Motors recalled about 30
million vehicles last year, but those were for a range of
defects, including faulty ignition switches.
U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
spokesman Gordon Trowbridge said Toyota and Nissan as well as
Japanese government officials have been in contact with the U.S.
safety agency over the last few days, and NHTSA will soon
announce “significant new steps” related to accelerating Takata
“While precise root cause remains undetermined, the clear
association with high humidity has suggested that moisture and
time are factors in this defect,” Trowbridge said.
Asked about the latest recalls, a Takata spokeswoman said a
probe into the causes for the air bag defects was ongoing and
that the company continued to cooperate with the automakers.
Six deaths have been linked to the defective Takata airbags,
all on cars made by Honda, which announced disappointing profit
forecasts last month citing high quality-related costs.
Toyota and Nissan said their recalls were precautionary and
that no accidents or injuries had been reported.
They did not give further details about the suspected
defects, but in documents submitted to Japan’s transport
ministry, the automakers said they had identified problems with
inflators that were not sufficiently sealed and that were at
risk of allowing in moisture during extended use.
Toyota, Japan’s biggest automaker, said it would recall just
under 5 million Corolla, Vitz and other models, mostly in Japan
Many of the models were built between March 2003 and
November 2007, and include 1.36 million to be recalled in Japan.
Nissan said it was recalling about 1.56 million cars
globally over the same problem. The automaker said nine models
in Japan were affected, including the X-Trail SUV, Fuga sedan
and Isuzu Como van. It did not immediately provide details on
models affected in other markets.
Takata faces multiple class action lawsuits in the United
States and Canada as well as a U.S. criminal investigation and a
The company said last week it expects to return to profit in
the business year started in April even though it has made few
provisions for costs related to the massive global recall.
(Additional reporting by Maki Shiraki in Tokyo and Ben Klayman
in Detroit; Editing by Chris Gallagher, Miral Fahmy, William
Mallard and Peter Galloway)