Honda Motor has confirmed a 17th US death tied to a faulty Takata air bag inflator.
According to Reuters, the automaker said, after a joint inspection with the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), it confirmed a faulty air bag inflator was to blame for the 20 August crash of a 2002 Honda Civic that led to the death of a driver in Mesa, Arizona.
The news agency noted the defect, which leads in rare instances to air bag inflators rupturing, sending metal fragments flying, prompted the largest automotive recall in US history and is tied to 15 US deaths in Honda vehicles and two in Ford vehicles since 2009. More than 290 injuries are also tied to faulty Takata inflators and at least 26 deaths worldwide.
Honda said the 2002 Civic had been under recall since December 2011 for replacement of the driver's frontal airbag inflator while the passenger's frontal airbag inflator was recalled in 2014.
Honda sent more than 15 mailed recall notices over eight years to registered owners of the vehicle before the crash and made other attempts to contact owners. The driver killed was not the registered owner and Honda said it was not certain if the driver was aware of the unrepaired recalls.
Reuters said the most recent previous fatal confirmed US incident was the June 2018 death of a driver after the crash of a 2002 Honda Civic in Buckeye, Arizona.
The Takata recalls cover about 100m inflators among 19 major automakers worldwide, including about 63m inflators in the United States.
NHTSA said the cause of inflator explosions that can emit deadly fragments was propellant breaking down after long term exposure to high temperature fluctuations and humidity.
Reuters noted Honda in August agreed to pay US$85m to settle an investigation by most US states into its use of defective Takata inflators.