DETROIT – The U.S. government's road safety agency is urging automakers to speed up replacement of potentially dangerous Takata air bag inflators. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said in a statement Friday that Heidi King, it's top official, has met with 19 affected companies urging them to accelerate the recalls and to post recall plans on their websites. The statement didn't say if automakers agreed to the request and NHTSA did not immediately answer messages left Friday. Automakers missed a Dec. 31 deadline to replace 100 percent of the oldest and most dangerous inflators, and they have been slow to complete the recalls, which began more than 15 years ago. Automakers say it is difficult to get people to take their cars in for repairs, especially with older models.
Two additional deaths in Malaysia were linked to ruptured air bag inflators made by Takata Corp., further damaging the reputation of the Japanese supplier as it works to comply with a U.S. order to expand a record recall. Two fatal Honda car crashes in Malaysia, one on April 16 and the other just last Monday, involved ruptured driver-side air bag inflators made by Takata, according to a statement by Honda Motor Co. The air bags had not been replaced though the two vehicles were included in recalls announced by the authorities, the automaker said. The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) on Wednesday ordered Takata to replace as many as 40 million additional air bags in the U.S., more than doubling what has been announced. At least 13 deaths are now linked to the malfunctioning devices, underscoring the scale of the crisis confronting President Shigehisa Takada, who has seen his family company's market value plunge by 75 percent over the past year.
The number of vehicles recalled in Japan hit a record-high 18.99 million units in fiscal 2015, largely affected by a global crisis over Takata Corp.'s faulty air bag inflators, the government said Monday. The figure for the year that ended March 31 nearly doubled from the previous record of 9.55 million for fiscal 2014, the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism said. It hit a record high for the third straight year. Takata-related recalls totaled 9.55 million, compared with 2.20 million the previous year. Since 2008, automakers have called back more than 50 million cars globally due to fears Takata inflators could explode with too much force, spraying metal fragments at passengers.
The transport ministry has ordered the nation's automakers to make further recalls of vehicles fitted with Takata Corp. air bag inflators of the kind being replaced in the United States, ministry officials said Tuesday. The instruction made by the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism could result in a recall of over 5 million units in Japan. This could push the cumulative number of domestic recalls to 20 million. The move comes after the U.S. road safety regulator on May 4 ordered Takata to expand its recall to include all air bag inflators that use ammonium nitrate as propellant and lack a drying agent. The additional order came on top of 28.8 million inflators already recalled in the United States, making the Takata inflator recall the largest product safety recall the U.S. auto industry has ever seen, it said.