Honda Broadens Air Bag Recall After Death In Malaysia

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Today the company issued a new recall of 170,000 cars worldwide after disclosing that a woman was killed this July in Malaysia after her airbag ruptured and deadly shrapnel was sent into the thorax of the driver.

This is the first death outside of the America’s related to the Takata Corporation (TYO:7312) (OTCMKTS:TKTDY) airbags and involved a 2003 Honda City, a subcompact car sold in both Europe and Asia. Today’s announcement was made by Honda Motor Co Ltd (ADR) (NYSE:HMC) (TYO:7267) spokesman Tsutomu Nakamura who declined to supply the woman’s name or age.

It’s really Takata’s fault

Honda’s Malaysia unit told Tokyo about the death in late August and that Honda asked beleaguered supplier Takata to investigate immediately. Takata’s inquiry led it to the fact that the airbag was produced at a now closed plant in Georgia.

According to a regulatory filing on Thursday, Takata has been subpoenaed by a federal grand jury in the Southern District of New York over defects in its airbags. The company is also looking ata a Senate hearing sometime next week according to Senator Richard Blumenthal, Democrat of Connecticut, who said it is “fairly certain” that this occur.

“We are cooperating fully with the recall and devoting ourselves as a company to strengthening our quality control,”Takata’s chairman and chief executive, Shigehisa Takada wrote earlier today.  “We will make every effort to regain trust.”

Takata recalls top 14 million

Of course, the problems with Takata’s airbags extend well beyond Honda. Ten other car makers have issued recalls over Takata including Toyota Motor Corp (ADR) (NYSE:TM) (TYO:7203), Nissan Motor Co Ltd (ADR) (OTCMKTS:NSANY) (TYO:7201), Chrysler and BMW among others. With today’s recall, Honda has now recalled 6.2 million cars due to problems with Takata airbags and the aggregate among the affected automakers has now reached 14.3 million.

The cars that were recalled today include the 2002 model of the That’s micro car and 2003-8 models of the Fit Aria subcompact in Japan; the 2003-5 Fit Saloon in China; the 2003-5 City in the Asia-Pacific region; and the 2004-5 Fit and Jazz models and the 2004 Civic in Europe.

Takata’s problems stem from the propellant used in the airbags which produce the gas needed to inflate the airbag.

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