FCA US will recall up to 3.3 million more older-model vehicles to replace driver-side airbag inflators made by Takata Corp. as the former Chrysler Group gives in to a demand by the United States National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Following a meeting last week with NHTSA, FCA announced plans to replace the inflators in 2004 to 2007 model years of: Dodge Ram 1500, 2500 and 3500 pickups; Dodge Ram 3500 Chassis Cabs; Dodge Durango and Chrysler Aspen SUVs; Chrysler 300 and Dodge Charger sedans; Dodge Magnums; Dodge Dakota and Mitsubishi Raider pickups.
The recall covers 2,890,785 vehicles in the United States, 258,586 in Canada, 66,436 in Mexico, and 99,030 in other markets. The latest recall means that FCA has already called back almost 3.7 million vehicles around the world.
Earlier this month NHTSA Deputy Chief David Friedman hit FCA for not conducting a wider recall of vehicles with suspected defective Takata airbags, saying that the carmaker’s refusal placed “Americans at risk and defies common sense.”
So far since 2008, carmakers have recalled over 24 million vehicles around the world over the Takata airbags, according to Reuters estimates. FCA said in a statement that neither the carmaker nor Takata “has identified a defect in this population of inflators.”
It added that the airbags it is now recalling are distinct from those linked to five deaths. FCA remarked that over 1,000 laboratory tests have been performed on the said components and all deployed as intended.
FCA added that it is still studying the suspect inflators, which it noted are not used in current production vehicles.
The carmaker had recalled vehicles fitted with possibly defective Takata inflators, but only in states and territories with high humidity, like Florida and Hawaii. FCA said it is aware of one related injury involving one of its models, in southern Florida where high humidity is common.
Takata’s airbag inflators have already been linked to at least five deaths, four of which were in the United States and involve Honda vehicles.
Takata Corp. recently tapped the services of Sard Verbinnen & Co. to handle its communications while the company deals with issue of suspected faulty airbag inflators. The hiring of Sard Verbinnen, public relations firm, by Takata brings out the question whether its chief executive, Shigehisa Takada will publicly speak on the issue.
Takada apologized to the company’s shareholders at its annual meeting in June, but he has yet to be seen in public. Sard Verbinnen is a financial communications firm with a number of famous clients, such as former Goldman Sachs Group Inc. banker Fabrice Tourre.