Takata airbags re­called as 10th death re­ported

The Pak Banker - - COMPANIES/BOSS -

Mil­lions more ve­hi­cles are be­ing re­called to re­place de­fec­tive Takata Corp. air bags as an­other death was linked to the devices that have been found to spray metal pieces into ve­hi­cles, the US Na­tional High­way Traf­fic Safety Ad­min­is­tra­tion said.

Two re­calls an­nounced on Fri­day cover 5 mil­lion air bag in­fla­tors in cars made by Ford, Volk­swa­gen AG, Honda Mo­tor Co., Daim­ler AG, Audi AG, Mazda Mo­tor Corp., Saab AB and BMW AG. NHTSA has been co­or­di­nat­ing the largest-ever US au­to­mo­tive ac­tion, which pre­vi­ously cov­ered 23 mil­lion in­fla­tors in 19 mil­lion ve­hi­cles with Takata air bags. The agency couldn't im­me­di­ately say how many ad­di­tional ve­hi­cles would be re­called be­cause some ve­hi­cles have mul­ti­ple in­fla­tors and some may have been pre­vi­ously re­called. Own­ers can check on their ve­hi­cles at safer­car.gov.

The driver of a 2006 Ford Mo­tor Co. Ranger pickup died in De­cem­ber af­ter the truck swerved off a road in South Carolina and hit an ob­struc­tion, the agency said in a call with re­porters Fri­day. Agency in­ves­ti­ga­tors said that the Takata air-bag ex­ploded, and the coro­ner had pre­vi­ously de­ter­mined the rup­ture con­trib­uted to the death, NHTSA spokesman Gor­don Trow­bridge said.

In ad­di­tion to the 10 fa­tal­i­ties, nine of them in the US, about 100 peo­ple have been in­jured by Takata air bags. "This is a mas­sive safety cri­sis," Trow­bridge said. Ford said it has "very lim­ited in­for­ma­tion" about the lat­est in­ci­dent and is work­ing with NHTSA to re­view the cir­cum­stances of the South Carolina death.

"We are sad­dened to hear about the driver's death and of­fer our sin­cere con­do­lences to the fam­ily of the driver," Ford spokesman John Ca­van­gany said in an e-mail. "We are work­ing with the agency to re­view the avail­able in­for­ma­tion, but we have very lim­ited in­for­ma­tion at this point. If we find an is­sue with our ve­hi­cles, we take prompt ac­tion to ad­dress cus­tomer safety." Takata said it's con­tin­u­ing to con­duct tests and ramp up re­place­ment kit pro­duc­tion, and try­ing to raise con­sumer aware­ness of re­called ve­hi­cles.

The Ja­panese com­pany also is in talks with ri­val air-bag maker Dai­cel Corp. on what a Dai­cel spokesman, Masahiko Hirokawa, de­scribed as "ways to en­sure sta­ble sup­ply" of in­fla­tors. No de­ci­sion has been made about whether they will in­vest in a pro­duc­tion joint ven­ture, Hirokawa said. The pro­posed tie-up was ear­lier re­ported by the Nikkei news­pa­per.

The Nikkei also re­ported that Takata will sep­a­rately seek aid from car­mak­ers as re­call costs mount, in­clud­ing get­ting them to cover some costs and eas­ing pres­sure for dis­counts on parts. "Our heart­felt con­do­lences go out to the driver's fam­ily," said Robert Ren­dine, a US spokesman for the Tokyo-based parts sup­plier. "We are co­op­er­at­ing fully with reg­u­la­tors and our au­to­mo­tive cus­tomers and con­tinue to sup­port all ac­tions that ad­vance ve­hi­cle safety."

One of the two re­calls NHTSA is order­ing-to re­place driver's side air bags with sim­i­lar in­fla­tors to the one in­volved in the lat­est fa­tal crash­in­volves ve­hi­cles made by Ford, Mazda, Audi, VW, Daim­ler and Saab, the agency said. Ap­prox­i­mately 1 mil­lion in­fla­tors are in­cluded in the ac­tion.

The in­fla­tor had been in­volved in pre­vi­ous test­ing with­out ex­pe­ri­enc­ing a rup­ture, Trow­bridge said. The agency isn't sure why the pickup's air bag ex­ploded. The fa­tal­ity means there's a higher risk, mean­ing the agency "be­lieves it's ap­pro­pri­ate to take ag­gres­sive ac­tion," he said. The se­cond re­call an­nounced on Fri­day, in­volv­ing ap­prox­i­mately 4 mil­lion in­fla­tors, in­volves ve­hi­cles made by Volk­swa­gen, BMW, Honda and Mercedes-Benz, NHTSA said.

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