HONDA FORCED TO RECALL: Honda are recalling another 4.5-million vehicles globally, as a scare over a deadly defect in Takata-made airbags widens. Image: AFP/ Yoshikazu Tsuno
TOKYO, Japan - Japanese automaker Honda on Thursday (July 9) said it was recalling another 4.5-million vehicles globally becauser of a scare involving the deadly defect in Takata-made crash bags widens.
The move takes to 24.5-million the total number of vehicles that the country's No.3 automaker has called back since the faulty bags were linked to eight deaths around the world.
The defect, believed to be associated with a chemical propellant that helps inflate the abags -- can cause them to deploy with explosive force, sending metal shrapnel hurtling through the cabin.
ANNUAL EARNINGS DOWN
The most recent confirmed victim was a woman in Los Angeles, killed in 2014 when a defective inflator in a 2001 Honda Civic ruptured, firing metal shards at her.
Honda said: "Like other automakers, we are investigating vehicles on the market in connection with this issue, and we found that some inflators have uneven gas density, which we worry could do some harm. It is a preventative measure and unlike other normal recalls we are not waiting for the full results of the research."
READ: Takata crash-bag's problems hit home
In June 2015 Honda revised down its annual earnings by 14% for the 2014 fiscal year, blaming the expanding recalls of faulty bags. Honda's biggest domestic (in Japan) rivals Toyota and Nissan in June 2015 expanded their huge global recalls, with worldwide totals now well into the tens of millions.
Tokyo-based Takata has been taking fire because of the crisis and is facing law suits and regulatory probes into accusations that it knew about the problem but concealed the dangers.
CAUSE REMAINS UNKNOWN
Kevin Kennedy, executive vice-president at Takata's US arm TK Holdings, recently told US lawmakers that the company, one of the world's biggest crash bag suppliers, was still searching for the main cause of the deadly explosions.
Kennedy said Takata's investigation was already focused on the possible instability of the main ammonium nitrate propellant in the inflators, particularly in humid environments.
Ten global automakers, among them General Motors and Germany's BMW, are being forced to recall some 34-million cars inside the US alone to replace the inflators , the biggest recall in US history.
US safety regulators began fining Takata R174 000 a day in February 2015 to force it to supply documentation on internal probes into bag issues dating back more than a decade. Kennedy admitted in June 2015 "that research seems to indicate that ammonium nitrate is certainly a factor in the inflator ruptures.".
Takata and other parts-makers have stepped up production of replacement bags and inflators to reduce the danger but many of those from Takata still use ammonium nitrate.