Toyota Motor Corp is recalling 185,000 vehicles in Japan and 5,000 in China for a possibly defective air bag supplied by Takata Corp, the Japanese manufacturer at the center of an unfolding safety scandal.
Toyota yesterday said the latest air bag problem was discovered as a result of passenger-side air bags in some Toyota vehicles rupturing when intentionally deployed while being scrapped, a routine procedure under Japanese law for scrapping vehicles.
Toyota said it was not aware of any fatalities or injuries related to the latest problem.
The recall includes vehicles produced from September 2002 through to December 2003, including Corolla models, Noah, Voxy, Mark II and Will.
The driver-side air bags in the affected models are not being recalled because they were not supplied by Takata, Toyota spokesman Naoki Sumino said.
About 14 million vehicles, including Toyota cars, have been recalled worldwide over Takata air bags, 8 million of them in the US. At issue are air bags whose inflators can explode, hurling shrapnel into the passenger compartment. At least five deaths and dozens of injuries have been linked to the problem worldwide.
Takata this week rejected an order by the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to declare its inflators defective and expand an investigative recall in hot and humid regions to the rest of the country. It said its own data did not support the need for such a move, and that doing so could divert replacement parts from the areas that need them most.
Takata, automakers and regulators are still trying to find out what is causing the air bag ruptures related to the regional recall. Extending that nationwide would add more than 8 million vehicles to the mix, Takata has said.
Meanwhile, the Mexican Ministry of Economy said it requested information from the local unit of Takata to determine which car models have used products at the center of a global recall.
The ministry said Takata had until today to respond, and the country’s consumer protection agency could issue alerts based on the information Takata provides.
Mexican Undersecretary of Industry and Commerce Rogelio Garza said the government is in the initial stages of investigating air bag inflators made at Takata’s factory in Monclova in northern Mexico.
“We don’t know what happened with the air bags,” Garza said. “What we have done here in Mexico is first to talk to Takata, and what they tell us is what I’m telling you: We have not identified what it is that’s causing it, whether it is the cartridge that is exploding or another mechanism.”
“So, we are really just compiling information, investigating but at a local level until we know what happened,” he added.
Garza said labor authorities had inspected the Monclova plant in August and issued 171 recommendations related to minor workplace safety concerns, but that none were related to the air bag recall.
The Mexican government said it also requested information from auto assembly plants regarding which models used Takata products.
Additional reporting by Reuters
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