Japan's three top carmakers to expand Takata air bag recalls by millions



Japan's three biggest carmakers said on Wednesday they would expand a huge global recall triggered by potentially fatal air bags made by Takata Corp, saying they were taking back millions of vehicles worldwide for investigation.

Toyota Motor Corp and Nissan Motor Co said they were recalling some 6.5 million vehicles globally, while Honda Motor Co Ltd said it would follow suit, without giving further details.

Wednesday's announcements raise to roughly 31 million the number of vehicles recalled worldwide since 2008 over Takata air bag inflators, which can erupt with too much force, spraying shrapnel inside the car.

The Takata-linked recall is now on par with a General Motors Co recall of some 30 million vehicles last year for a range of defects, including faulty ignition switches.

Asked about the latest recalls, a Takata spokeswoman said a probe into the causes for the air bag defects was ongoing and that the company continued to cooperate with the automakers.

Six deaths have been linked to the defective Takata airbags, all on cars made by Honda, which announced disappointing profit forecasts last week citing high quality-related costs.

Toyota and Nissan said their recalls were precautionary and that no accidents or injuries had been reported.

They did not give further details about the suspected defects, but in documents submitted to Japan's transport ministry, the automakers said they had identified problems with inflators that were not sufficiently sealed and that were at risk of allowing in moisture during extended use.

Toyota, Japan's biggest automaker, said it would recall just under 5 million Corolla, Vitz and other models, mostly in Japan and Europe.

Many of the models were built between March 2003 and November 2007, and include 1.36 million to be recalled in Japan.

Nissan said it was recalling about 1.56 million cars globally over the same issue. It did not give further details about the models affected.

Takata faces multiple class action lawsuits in the United States and Canada as well as a U.S. criminal investigation and a regulatory probe.

The company said last week it expects to return to profit in the business year started in April even though it has made few provisions for costs related to the massive global recall.

(Additional reporting by Maki Shiraki; Editing by Chris Gallagher, Miral Fahmy and William Mallard)

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