DEFECTIVE AIR BAGS: A crash test of a 2002 Honda CR-V, one of the models subject to a recall to repair faulty Takata air bags. In May 2015, Japan's top automakers issued yet another recall affecting millions of vehicles.Image: AP
TOKYO, Japan - Japan's three biggest automakers are expanding the already huge global recall triggered by potentially lethal air bags made by Takata Corporation.
"Millions" of vehicles will be called in to be checked.
Toyota and Nissan are recalling some 6.5-million vehicles globally. Honda said it would follow suit but did publish numbers, though a Honda US spokesperson said any action would not affect cars sold in the US.
POTENTIALLY LETHAL AIR BAGS
South African distributors/manufacturers of affected vehicles are being approached for comment.
Wednesday's (May 13 2015) announcements raise to roughly 31-million the number of vehicles recalled worldwide since 2008 because Takata bag-inflators have been show to ignite with too much pressure, spraying bits of metal in the cabin.
The Takata-linked recalls top the largest US recall for a single defect - 21-million Fords in the 1980's for a parking gear problem. However General Motors recalled about 30-million vehicles in 2014 though for a range of defects, including faulty ignition switches.
US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration spokesman Gordon Trowbridge said Toyota and Nissan, as well as Japanese government officials, had been in contact with the US safety agency over the previous few days and the administration would soon announce "significant new steps" related to accelerating Takata recalls.
HIGH HUMIDITY A FACTOR?
Trowbridge added: "While the precise root cause remains undetermined a clear association with high humidity has suggested that moisture and time are factors."
Asked about the latest recalls, a Takata spokesperson said a probe into the causes of the air-bag defects was ongoing and that the company continued to co-operate with the automakers.
Six deaths have been linked to the defective Takata bags, each on a Honda, which announced disappointing profit forecasts last month citing high quality-related costs.
Toyota and Nissan said their recalls were precautionary; no crashes or injuries had been reported. Documents submitted to Japan's transport ministry by automakers said they had identified problems with inflators that were not sufficiently sealed and so were at risk of allowing in moisture during extended use.
HUGE LIST OF CARS AFFECTED
Toyota, Japan's most prolific automaker, said it would recall nearly five-million Corolla, Vitz and other models, mostly in Japan and Europe.
Many of the models were assembled from March 2003 to November 2007, and include 1.36-million to be recalled in Japan.
Nissan said it was recalling about 1.56-million vehicles globally to deal with the same problem. Nine models were affected in Japan, among them the X-Trail SUV, Fuga sedan and Isuzu Como van. It did not provide details for other markets.
Takata is facing multiple class-action law suits in the US and Canada as well as a US criminal investigation and a regulatory probe.
The company said it expects to return to profit in the business year started in April 2015 despite making few provisions for costs related to the global recall.