BMW AG, in collaboration with the United States National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, has expanded its national recall to include 140,000 more vehicles fitted with suspected faulty driver-side airbags. The recall covers MY2004-2006 3-series vehicles built between January 2004 and August 2006.
The Bavarian carmaker said in a statement that while none of the reported cases of defective airbags involved its vehicles, the German carmaker will cooperate fully with NHTSA by replacing the driver-side front airbag in the affected vehicles.
BMW spokesman Dave Buchko told The Detroit News that the recall covers all the vehicles that NHTSA asked to be recalled. BMW is the fifth carmaker in the US to expand recalls of Takata driver-side airbags following an order from NHTSA to do so in November.
In July, BMW called back 1.6 million cars – covering 3-series vehicles built between May 1999 and August 2006 -- around the world to replace Takata passenger-side front airbags. According to Reuters estimates, carmakers have already recalled 17 million vehicles in the US and 24 million globally.
Takata Corp. has said it has enough funds to handle a global recall of possibly defective airbags involving over 21 million vehicles. Takata chief executive Shigehisa Takada told the Japanese newspaper Nikkei that the company isn't worried that it would be undercapitalized as a result of the global recall. Takada added that Takata may take financing steps if needed.
So far, Takata has allocated around $774 million (£496 million) to deal with airbag recalls. The Japanese company is also facing a number of class-action lawsuits as well as a criminal investigation in the United States with regards to its airbag crisis. According to Takada, the Japanese company is currently making the production of replacement airbags as a priority. The faulty airbags are so far linked to five deaths -- four in the United States and one in Malaysia – involving Honda cars fitted with the Takata-made device.
Takada remarked that Takata is currently analyzing collected inflators to determine the root cause of defects in the airbags, which could potentially explode and send shrapnel flying. According to Takata’s CEO, the supplier has already identified and corrected manufacturing issues, such as mismanagement of ammonium nitrate, which has been used as an ingredient in the airbag inflators since 2000.
Takata’s top honcho disclosed that the Japanese supplier was analyzing around 100 inflators a day to find the cause of the defect. Despite a move to ramp up the production of replacement inflators at Takata’s Mexican manufacturing site, there have been qualms whether there would be enough replacement parts for the recall.