Honda to launch global recall of vehicles with Takata airbags

Article by Christian A., on December 11, 2014

Honda Motor Co. will issue a global investigative recall of vehicles with airbags made by Japanese supplier, President Takanobu Ito told Nihon Keizei Shimbun newspaper. The disclosure came just days after the carmaker extended a similar recall in the United States from a regional callback to a national one.

While Ito said he is frustrated with the Takata’s response, Honda will offer support if the Japanese supplier starts to suffer from into financial difficulties. He told the daily that he regretted not acting sooner to launch an investigation into root cause of the faulty airbags, which could explode and send shrapnel to passengers.

He remarked that Honda cannot depend on Takata to sort out the cause, adding that the carmaker should have acted on a view that it was vehicle problems instead of a parts problem. Honda’s expansion of its recall added 2.6 million vehicles called back in the US, which means the total number of recalled vehicles in the country has reached 8.74 million.

That figure includes 3.5 million vehicles covered by the safety improvement campaign in humid areas and 3.34 million vehicles covered by full recalls for faulty airbags. Honda has issued a similar safety improvement campaign to recall and inspect 134,584 vehicles in Japan.

Honda spokesman Teruhiko Tatebe confirmed that that the carmaker is mulling expanding the investigative recall to regions other than the US and Japan. Recalled vehicles will have their airbag inflators replaced with a new one, with the old inflator inspected to determine its defect.

Honda initially recalled vehicles only in humid regions of the US for possibly defective driver-side airbags. However, US regulators have started to suspect that humidity is not a factor in the defect after a Honda airbag ruptured in California. A Ford airbag also ruptured in North Carolina.

Days ago, the United States National Highway Traffic Safety Administration request Takata to submit documents and answer questions under oath over its employment of ammonium nitrate as a propellant in its inflators. The request gave birth to speculations that NHTSA might be looking at ammonium nitrate as a possible cause of ruptured Takata inflators.

NHTSA’s demands were written in its Nov. 18 special order, which is equivalent to a subpoena. Takata has been employing ammonium nitrate as the gas-producing propellant to inflate its airbags. Interestingly, ammonium nitrate is also employed in explosives and fertilizers. However, this substance could become unstable when exposed to humidity and moisture.

NHTSA wants the Japanese company to produce all documents that say -- expressly or implicitly -- that ammonium nitrate is too unstable to be employed in airbag inflators.

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Topics: honda, takata, recall, airbag

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