Sun, Oct 02, 2016 - Page 16 News List

BMW recalls air bags over new Takata problem

TO BE SOLD?The Japanese firm has received offers for initial investment from each of the five suitors seeking to buy Takata, a person with knowledge of the issue said

AP, DETROIT, Michigan

Another potentially deadly problem has surfaced with Takata Corp’s air bags, this one forcing BMW AG to recall more than 4,000 SUVs in the US and Canada.

The new problem was traced to improper welds and it is separate from the trouble that has caused the largest automotive recall in US history.

The latest recall, unveiled on Friday in documents posted by the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, affects certain BMW X3 and X4 SUVs from the 2015 model year, and X5s from 2014 and 2015.

The driver’s front air bag inflator can separate from a plate, shooting out metal and other debris.

“This may result in injury or death to vehicle occupants,” BMW said in the documents.

No injuries have been reported, and the safety administration said the problematic inflators from this manufacturing lot were not installed in any other vehicles made by BMW or other automakers.

The agency said the inflators will be tested as a precaution to make sure there are no other problems.

BMW said the inflators were not part of any earlier Takata recalls.

It is a new problem for Takata in addition to the one that brought the recall of 69 million vehicles in the US and about 100 million worldwide.

In those vehicles, the ammonium nitrate used by Takata to inflate air bags can deteriorate when exposed to high heat and humidity. That can cause it to burn faster than designed, blowing apart a metal inflator canister and sending shrapnel into drivers and passengers.

As many as 15 people, including 10 in the US, have been killed by exploding Takata inflators, and more than 100 have been hurt.

According to the documents, Takata traced the problem to incorrect welds at a factory in Mexico. The defect was discovered after BMW was told of a July 22 crash in Georgia involving a 2014 X5 in which shrapnel from the air bag caused “unusual damage to the vehicle interior.”

Meanwhile, Takata has received offers for initial investment of US$1 billion to US$2 billion from each of the five suitors seeking to buy the troubled air-bag maker, a person with knowledge of the matter said.

The Japanese company might be leaning toward three bids: one by air-bag inflator maker Daicel Corp and Bain Capital, and the others by buyout firm KKR & Co and bumper supplier Flex-N-Gate Corp, said the person, who asked not to be identified because the discussions are confidential.

While all five groups have proposed bankruptcy for Takata, air-bag makers Autoliv Inc and Key Safety Systems Inc are insisting on that option, making their bids less favorable, the person said.

Discussions are ongoing and a buyer might not be decided soon, the person said.

Additional reporting by Bloomberg

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