Honda, Mazda and Nissan have recalled nearly 3 million vehicles due to a defect in the airbag inflator. This is the latest in a series of recalls prompted by problems with airbags manufactured by Takata.
Takata airbag inflators built between 2000 and 2002 in plants located in the U.S. and Mexico have been found to have a potentially lethal defect. The explosives used in the inflators could undergo an uncontrolled detonation in high heat and humidity conditions, sending shrapnel flying in every direction. The problem has already been linked to several injuries and two deaths. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has launched an investigation into the cause of the defect. The administration is also trying to determine whether airbags manufactured after 2002 were affected.
Due to the problem with the Takata airbags, Honda recalled over 2 million vehicles worldwide, with about half of those in North America. Nissan was forced to recall 755,000 vehicles and Mazda recalled nearly 160,000. All of the cars affected were manufactured between 2000 and 2005. This latest round of recalls brings the total number of vehicles affected by faulty airbags to approximately 10.5 million over the last five years, including a large recall by Toyota earlier in June.
"Toyota's affected models include the Corolla, Matrix, Tundra, Yaris and Camry," based on reports. "The models recalled at Honda include the Fit, Element and CR-V, while those at Nissan are the Cube, X-Trail and some Infiniti models. Recalled at Mazda were the Atenza and RX-8."
The series of recalls has cost Takata around $300 million in 2013 alone, and that number is expected to increase as more affected vehicles are discovered. Takata says the problem stems from improper chemical storage and manufacturing methods at several poorly-managed plants in North America. The resulting defects in the explosive compound can cause it to detonate abnormally when exposed to humid conditions over an extended period of time.
Ford, Chrysler and BMW are also conducting more limited recalls of vehicles in high-humidity areas, in accordance with a request by the NHTSA. Due to the highly dangerous nature of the problem, the administration is asking manufacturers to disable or remove potentially problematic devices while it investigates whether any other airbags have been affected by the defect.