Honda Airbag Recall Fuels Japan's Auto Woes

Recall of 400,000 vehicles to fix airbags that can explode and spray out potentially deadly metal shards

Honda recalled more than 400,000 vehicles to fix airbags that it said can explode and spray out potentially deadly metal shards.

The recall, the third related to the defect since late 2008, includes top-selling Accord and Civic cars sold in the United States and Canada as well as models marketed in Japan, Mexico, Taiwan and Australia.

Honda said the defective airbag inflators could rupture, "resulting in metal fragments passing through the airbag cushion material and possibly causing injury or fatality to vehicle occupants."

The expanded recall of 437,763 vehicles covers models made in 2001 and 2002, mostly in North America, and also includes family-friendly models such as the Odyssey and CR-V.

Honda said it knew of 12 incidents involving the defect and one fatality, but added that there had been no new reports since last year.

The latest safety recall adds to the woes of Japan's auto industry, a key export earner of Asia's largest economy, with Toyota making global headlines over its faulty accelerator and brake systems.

Hans Greimel, the Asia editor of Automotive News, said Honda's airbag problem was "significant" but said the company was "coming under increased scrutiny now because of the Toyota problem."

"I think all automakers are coming under pressure because of the increased intricacies and complicated nature of today's cars," Greimel said. "There are a lot of electronics in the cars. A lot of things that can go wrong."

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2010

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