Four Japanese automakers including Toyota Motor Corp, and Nissan Motor Co are recalling 3.4 million vehicles sold around the world because airbags supplied by Takata Corp are at risk of catching fire or injuring passengers.
The move announced on Thursday is the largest recall ever for airbags made by Takata, the world’s second largest supplier of airbags and seatbelts. Shares of Takata tumbled almost 10 percent in Tokyo trading.
The recall is the largest since Toyota pulled back more than 7 million vehicles in October. The scale of the recent safety actions underscore the risk of huge global supply chain problems as automakers increasingly rely on a handful of suppliers for common or similar parts to cut costs, analysts have said.
The recall covers some of the top-selling Japanese cars, including Toyota’s Camry and Corolla, and rivals like the Nissan Maxima and Honda Civic. All of the vehicles in question were manufactured in or after 2000.
In an accident, the airbag for the front passenger seat may not inflate correctly because of a manufacturing defect in the propellant used in the airbag inflator, the companies said. As a result, there is a risk of fires starting or of passengers being injured.
Toyota, Honda and Nissan said there were no reports of injuries or deaths because of the defective airbags.
The recall is the largest for Takata since 1995 when the Tokyo-based company was involved in a recall of over 8 million vehicles because of defective seatbelts.
Tokyo-based Takata said it supplies airbags and seatbelts to major automakers including Daimler AG and Ford Motor Co as well as the Japanese brands.
Some non-Japanese automakers were also supplied with the faulty airbags, Takata spokesman Toyohiro Hishikawa said. He declined to name those automakers.
Between 2008 and 2011, Honda Motor Co was forced to recall about 2.8 million vehicles after finding a defect with driver-side airbags supplied by Takata.
“When the last recall took place, we inspected everything such as the site of manufacturing, but we were not able to identify this problem,” said Hideyuki Matsumoto, another spokesman for Takata.
Toyota said it would recall about 1.73 million vehicles produced between November 2000 and March 2004, including 580,000 vehicles sold in North America and 490,000 vehicles sold in Europe.
Honda said it was recalling around 1.14 million vehicles worldwide. Nissan Motor Co said it was recalling about 480,000 vehicles globally. It said the number of vehicles under recall could increase. Mazda Motor Co said it was recalling 45,500 vehicles worldwide.
The faulty airbags were manufactured between 2000 and 2002 in a Takata factory in Mexico.
The Toyota models covered by the recall include the Corolla, Tundra, Yaris and Camry. Nissan models include the Maxima and the Cube.
Toyota will exchange the faulty airbag inflators for new ones, a fix that is expected to take about an hour to two-and-a-half hours for most models, Toyota’s Sakai said. He declined to give the costs related to the recall.
“The inflators themselves are not so expensive, but there is the cost to cover for the hours spent to fix the problem,” said Kohei Takahashi, an auto industry analyst at J.P. Morgan in Japan.
The recall, announced during Japanese trading hours, hit Takata’s shares harder than it did shares in the automakers, which typically carry reserves for recalls and warranty costs.
Shares in Toyota, Honda, Nissan and Mazda, which continue to be supported by a weakening yen, were up between 3.1 and 5.8 percent, outpacing a 2 percent rise in the benchmark Nikkei. ($1 = 99.5050 Japanese yen)
Copyright © 2013, Reuters