- Millions more vehicles with the devices may be hit by recall
- NHTSA in talks with air bag maker over faulty products
Takata Corp., the embattled maker of airbags linked to deadly malfunctions, is in talks with U.S. regulators that could lead to the recall of millions of additional vehicles, according to people briefed on the matter.
An announcement could come as soon as this week, according to the people, who asked not to be identified because they aren’t authorized to speak publicly about it. They said they couldn’t say how many vehicles would be involved as the recall is still in negotiations. The Wall Street Journal reported it will be at least 35 million inflators, on top of the 28.8 million already recalled. The action will include all units that don’t have a desiccant, said one of the people.
At least 10 deaths have been linked to the devices, which have inflated with too much force and sent shards of metal into the passenger compartment.
Bryan Thomas, a spokesman for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, declined to comment other than to say the agency is reviewing several investigations and “will take all appropriate actions.”
Takata spokesman Jared Levy said “Takata is working with regulators and our automaker customers to develop long-term, orderly solutions.”
Takata raised provisions for the recall earlier this week. The auto parts supplier will book a combined 20.1 billion yen ($188 million) in charges, 16.6 billion of which was decided after reviewing air-bag recall costs, according to a statement on Monday. The remaining 3.5 billion yen charge is related to settlements with consumers injured by the devices.
Takata plunged by the most in a month on Monday after the Nikkei newspaper reported that U.S. regulators plan to call for expanded recalls. The shares fell 9.2 percent to 373 yen at the close in Tokyo, dropping its market capitalization to about 31 billion yen.
NHTSA has told automakers that recalls will widen to all vehicles with air bags lacking a moisture-absorbing desiccant that keeps the devices from deteriorating, the Nikkei reported Saturday, citing unidentified sources. There are more than 100 million such vehicles worldwide, the newspaper said.
NHTSA has zeroed in on the role that moisture plays in making the Takata air bags unstable. The agency has said there’s no evidence that air bags that have a desiccant are defective.
In February, researchers hired by a coalition of automakers found that moisture was a key factor in the air-bag ruptures that can spray shrapnel toward drivers and front-seat passengers in the affected cars. Cars with a particular Takata air-bag design susceptible to water intrusion and with prolonged exposure to a high-humidity climate are also at the highest risk, the panel found.