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Honda adds to Takata air bag recalls; global tally now around 36 million

TOKYO (Reuters) – Honda Motor Co on Thursday recalled close to 5 million vehicles fitted with potentially faulty Takata Corp air bag inflators, as investigations showed the problem behind one of the biggest auto safety crises may be more widespread than thought.

The latest move by Japan’s third largest automaker brings the overall global total of vehicles recalled for Takata-related air bags to around 36 million since 2008, and comes a day after Toyota Motor Corp and Nissan Motor Co recalled 6.5 million vehicles worldwide.

Daihatsu Motors Co Ltd said it recalled nearly 260,000 cars.

Honda said it decided to recall the cars after finding some Takata bag inflators were not sealed properly, allowing moisture to seep into the propellent casing that could make the air bag explode with excessive force, shooting shrapnel inside the vehicle.

Six deaths have been linked to defective air bags, all on cars made by Honda, which has borne the brunt of the Takata recalls to date, and which posted disappointing profit forecasts last month citing high quality-related costs.

Automakers have been conducting their own investigations into Takata air bags.

Most of Takata’s previous recalls were to replace air bags made at factories in the United States and Mexico where moisture got into the casing, the company and automakers have said.

“While we are not able to determine the cause of the problems there is a possibility there will be more recalls,” said Honda spokesman Teruhiko Tatebe.

Honda, Toyota and Nissan said the recalls were precautionary, and there were no reports of accidents or injuries.

Asked about the latest recalls, a Takata spokesman said the company would continue to cooperate with the automakers.

Takata Chief Financial Officer Yoichiro Nomura told analysts on Thursday that the company, which has boosted production to supply replacement inflators, had “no plans for now” to set aside more cash for the latest recalls, the spokesman added.

RIVAL SUPPLIERS

Honda said it would use replacement parts supplied by Takata rivals Autoliv and Daicel Corp, as well as by Takata itself. It said the recall, which includes its Fit subcompact, did not affect any vehicles in the United States – where most of its previous recalls have been.

The total Takata-linked recalls top the largest U.S. recall of 21 million vehicles by Ford Motor Co in the 1980s for a

parking gear problem, according to U.S. safety regulators and safety advocates.

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

It has said it expects to return to profit this financial year even though it made few provisions for costs related to the recall.

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