BUSINESS

Mazda follows Honda in expanding Takata air bag recall in the US to cover entire country

12/10/2014 06:18 EST | Updated 02/09/2015 05:59 EST
TOKYO - Mazda is expanding its U.S. recall for Takata air bags that may explode to the entire country, following Japanese rival Honda in the decision. Honda said its expanded recalls will also be global, although the numbers are still unclear.

Mazda Motor Corp. said Wednesday it will officially notify the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration soon, but was still compiling details including the exact vehicle numbers requiring recall.

NHTSA is demanding nationwide air bag recalls. The recalls have concentrated on regions with high humidity, which is suspected as factor in the explosions.

So far the Mazda recalls for driver side air bags total about 87,000 vehicles. Making the recall nationwide would likely lift that number to 330,000 vehicles.

Japanese supplier Takata Corp. is under fire for air bag inflators that can explode, shooting out metal and plastic pieces. At least five deaths and dozens of injuries have been linked to the problem worldwide.

Takata has refused the NHTSA demand for nationwide recalls, although it has said it will co-operate with automakers who decide to do them.

Honda Motor Co. said this week that it will comply with the NHTSA demand, adding 2.6 million more vehicles to its recall, which will now total 5.4 million vehicles.

Honda is making that expanded recall global, including 135,000 vehicles being recalled in Japan. The Tokyo-based automaker is arranging similar recalls throughout the world, but the numbers are still unclear, according to Honda.

But Honda is calling it a "safety improvement campaign" to address customer concerns, not because the product is defective. Honda has vowed to carry out a thorough investigation of the problem, first reported in 2004, and will share its findings, he said.

Mazda is also saying it is unclear whether there's a defect but it will carry out the recall to investigate.

Although Takata has found production errors and other defects, the root cause of the explosions has not yet been pinpointed.

Meanwhile, for passenger-side air bag inflators, NHTSA says that recalls remain limited to high-humidity areas because there's no data to suggest a problem with them nationwide.

___

Follow Yuri Kageyama on Twitter at https://twitter.com/yurikageyama