Latest reports suggest Takata will comply with NHTSA demand for a US-wide recall

Latest reports suggest Takata will comply with NHTSA demand for a US-wide recall

Troubled airbag supplier Takata is preparing to comply with a US order to expand a region-specific recall nationwide, Reuters reported, citing Japanese busines paper Nikkei. The move is likely to add millions more to the number of cars recalled to replace potentially deadly air bag inflators.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) last week gave Takata, which supplies about a fifth of the global auto industry's air bags, until today (Tuesday 2 December) to declare that its air bag inflators are defective and issue a national recall. If it does not, NHTSA could begin steps to fine the Japanese company up to US$7,000 per vehicle, as well as force a recall, Reuters noted.

The Nikkei daily said Takata was making final preparations to expand what has been called an 'investigative' recall, which has so far been limited to hot and humid areas where the air bag inflators are thought to be more prone to fail. The paper did not say where it sourced the information.

A Takata spokeswoman told the news agency no decision had been made, adding that no board meeting had taken place [in Japan] on Tuesday.

The US regional recall has involved 4.1m cars, more than half made by Honda which is Takata's biggest customer.

Takata has so far resisted a wider recall, saying that could divert replacements away from the regions thought to need them most and that, if NHTSA forced a nation-wide recall, it might run out of new airbags.

About 16m cars have been recalled worldwide in recent years for potentially faulty Takata air bags. Five deaths have been linked to its inflators, which can explode with too much force and spray metal shards inside the vehicle.

Reuters said local auto regulators have said they would also demand a recall of affected vehicles in Japan if Takata complies with demands for a US-wide recall. That would affect 200,000 cars, mainly from Honda and Mazda, the transport ministry told Reuters last week. Around 2.6m cars have been recalled in Japan to date.

The report added Japan may yet see more recalls for a separate problem reported last month of an "unusual deployment" of a Takata-made air bag in a scrapped car. The inflator was manufactured in January 2003 at Takata's Monclova factory in Mexico and had not been subject to previous recalls.

The Nikkei said Takata is set to work with automakers to determine how many vehicles would need to be recalled, and the company would explain its decision at a second US congressional hearing scheduled on Wednesday [3 December].