Takata Corp. is getting ready to comply with an order from the United States National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to upgrade a regional recall into national one, according to a report by Nikkei.
NHTSA last week gave Takata until December 2 to declare that its airbag inflators are defective and to issue a national recall – a move that could add a few more million cars to nearly 8 million already recalled.
If Takata fails to heed the order, NHTSA could impose up to $7,000 per vehicle in fines against the Japanese supplier while forcing the company to issue a recall. According to Nikkei, Takata was already in final preparations to expand the recall that has so far only included places having high humidity.
A Takata spokeswoman, however, remarked that no decision had been made regarding the NHTSA order. A number of carmakers have recalled regionally over 4.1 million cars fitted with Takata airbags – with Honda accounting for over half of the called back units.
Takata, however, has refused to heed requests to a nationwide region, saying that it could divert replacement parts away from the where they are needed the most. In the past few years, around 10 carmakers have recalled globally around 16 million vehicles with the airbags, which has been tied to five deaths.
Auto regulators in Japan have also said a recall of affected vehicles – numbering around 200,000 cars mostly from Honda and Mazda -- could be initiated in the country if Takata complies with NHTSA’s order for nationwide callback in the US.
So far, carmakers have recalled around 2.6 million cars with possibly faulty airbags in Japan. Japan may also see an expanded recall over another issue reported in November regarding an "unusual deployment" of a Takata airbag in a scrapped car.
Just last month, NHTSA has asked Honda to provide documents and answer questions under oath linked to the current probe of potentially faulty air bags fitted in millions of recalled vehicles. NHTSA essentially wants to see all internal communications at Honda related to Takata airbag inflators. The agency also wants to see field reports, warranty claims and pre-suit legal claims, incidents and lawsuits related to the issue. Honda has until December 15 to produce the documents requested by NHTSA.
In nearly seven years, around ten major carmakers using Takata airbags have recalled over 11 million cars in the US and over 17 million around the world to replace inflators linked to at least four deaths and several serious injuries. Interestingly, all the deaths occurred with vehicles from Honda, which has also recalled back nearly 7.6 million cars in the US since 2008 and more than 9.5 million cars globally.