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Honda Adds Almost 5 Million More Vehicles to Exploding Airbag Recall

May 14, 2015
This latest recall pushes the total number among Toyotas, Nissans and Hondas into eight figures, with Takata still on the defensive.

TOKYO — Honda added 4.89 million vehicles on Thursday to a ballooning global recall over an airbag defect that has been blamed for killing several drivers.

Japan’s No. 3 automaker made the announcement just a day after Toyota and Nissan said they were calling back a combined 6.5 million vehicles over fears about airbags made by embattled supplier Takata.

The latest moves bring the number of vehicles recalled just by Japan’s biggest automakers to more than 30 million, with overseas rivals including General Motors also affected by the snowballing scandal.

Honda has now recalled more than 19 million vehicles globally while more than 8 million Toyotas have been recalled, and approximately 4 million Nissans. 

Honda, which is Takata’s biggest airbag customer, has seen its bottom line take a hit because of soaring costs from the affair.

In February, Honda said its boss Takanobu Ito was stepping down as the firm grappled with the crisis.

Takata is facing calls for a criminal probe and was accused in a U.S. class-action lawsuit of “deception and obfuscation” over the defect while Honda has been named in the claim that alleges it conspired with the supplier to hide the flaw for years.

As many as six deaths have been linked to the fault, with global automakers scrambling to fix vehicles equipped with Takata-made airbags that could improperly inflate and rupture, potentially firing deadly shrapnel at the occupants.

The death of one victim in the United States was initially investigated as a murder because of her grisly injuries.

Warmer climates are more affected

But Honda said Thursday there were no accidents stemming from its latest recall.

“There were no injuries or deaths in relation to the recalls this time — they’re meant to prevent accidents before they happen,” a Tokyo-based spokeswoman said.

Honda shares closed 0.07% lower to 4,188.0 yen ($35.14) in Tokyo with the recall announced shortly before markets closed.

The latest recall of 4.89 million Hondas affects more than 20 models manufactured between 2002 and 2008, including 1.72 million sold in Japan. None were sold in the U.S. market, Honda said, adding there might be some overlap in its total figure due to cars having more than one faulty airbag.

Earlier Honda recalls included cars sold in the United States.

Takata has said the defect surfaces mainly in humid, hotter regions and resisted U.S. authorities’ calls for a national recall of cars with its airbags.

The firm had an open disagreement with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which accused Takata of not helping with its investigation into the defects.

The Tokyo-based firm, one of the world’s larger airbag companies, is a key supplier to major automakers with dozens of plants and offices in 20 countries, including the United States, China and Mexico.

Takata recently acknowledged that the crisis has taken a toll on its earnings, but added that it expects to eke out a small profit this year.

Despite the global crisis, Takata’s top executives have largely stayed out of the public eye and remain tightlipped about the situation.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2015

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