Takata Corp. (7312) faces its biggest recall crisis in almost two decades after defective airbag inflators led Toyota Motor Corp. (7203), Honda Motor Co. (7267) and Nissan Motor Co. to call back more than 3 million vehicles.
The Japanese safety-gear producer made the products from 2000 to 2002, Takata spokesman Hideyuki Matsumoto said, declining to comment on its customers, who identified the supplier. According to Toyota, malfunctioning inflators could cause the airbag to deploy abnormally during a crash.
Takata tumbled as much as 15 percent in Tokyo trading after Japan’s three biggest carmakers made the announcements. It’s the biggest recall involving Takata since 1995, when several automakers called back almost 9 million vehicles to replace faulty seat belts made by the Japanese company -- a record for the auto industry at the time.
“It looks like the cost of the recalls may be pretty big,” said Satoru Takada, a Tokyo-based analyst at Toward the Infinite World Inc., referring to Takata. “It doesn’t seem like something that would be easy to identify and fix. But if the cause is clear, it shouldn’t have a lasting effect.”
Takata, which says it’s the second-biggest maker of automotive safety parts, fell 9 percent to close at 1,819 yen in Tokyo, the biggest drop in two months. Autoliv Inc. (ALV), the world’s biggest maker of airbags, rose as much as 1.6 percent in Stockholm.
Toyota rose 5.8 percent to 5,640 yen, Nissan gained 4.4 percent and Honda rose 3.1 percent in Tokyo. The benchmark Nikkei 225 (NKY) Stock Average climbed 2 percent.
Matsumoto confirmed that the recall is the company’s biggest since 1995. More recently, in 2010, Honda recalled 437,763 vehicles to inspect for faulty airbag modules supplied by Takata.
Today, Toyota said it’s recalling 1.73 million vehicles globally and Honda about 1.14 million units, while Nissan said it may call back 480,000 vehicles globally. Mazda Motor Corp. (7261) said it recalled 45,463 units. Its shares gained 4 percent to 315 yen.
“The involved vehicles are equipped with front-passenger airbag inflators which could have been assembled with improperly manufactured propellant wafers,” Toyota said in a statement. “Improperly manufactured propellant wafers could cause the inflator to rupture and the front passenger airbag to deploy abnormally in the event of a crash.”
Toyota spokeswoman Shino Yamada said that five incidents of malfunctions have been reported, though there were no accidents or injuries. The vehicles affected include the Corolla and Camry, and were built between November 2000 and March 2004, she said.
For Toyota, the world’s largest automaker, it’s the second time this year that the company has announced a recall involving more than 1 million vehicles. Last year, Toyota announced a recall involving 7.43 million units in October, followed by one involving 2.77 million vehicles the next month.
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