Sci-tech

Tokyo shares close down as Takata dives on airbag recall fears

Tokyo shares close down as Takata dives on airbag recall fears

The Japanese supplier has previously admitted that some of its inflators can rupture and explode with excessive force, spraying metal shards at vehicle occupants. It's already been one of the biggest recalls in the United States but according to a new report, it's going to get bigger still.

The U.S. auto safety regulator said it is investigating all Takata Corp. air-bag inflators that use a chemical propellant banned from future models and will compile data to determine whether to expand the industry's broadest recall ever. Ten deaths are linked to the airbag ruptures, and already some 28 million Takata airbags have been recalled in the United States. "The number of inflators that may eventually be recalled under that consent order is in the multiple tens of millions".

The company said in a statement that it is "cooperating fully with regulators and our automotive customers and continues to take aggressive action to advance vehicle safety".

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The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is setting priorities for the order in which recalled airbags are replaced, and it has ordered Takata to prove why all ammonium-nitrate inflators should not be replaced. It also pledged to declare all remaining ammonium nitrate inflators defective by 2019 unless it can demonstrate they are safe. High humidity in factories without air conditioning, broken pieces within the inflators, and other manufacturing red flags have been raised as culprits, but despite knowing of defects as far back as 2000, Takata so far has not identified the problem in full. Its single largest client was Honda, which still owns a minority stake in Takata and has recalled more than 8m defective Takata inflators in the US.

Mace Blicksilver, the US-based director of Marblehead Asset Management, said he was cautious about the prospect for further gains after a rout on global markets since the start of the year.

In January, NHTSA administrator Mark Rosekind said the number of airbags recalled by Takata is likely to grow by "a lot". However, company documents show that Takata plants in Mexico and the US, which assembled the fatally flawed airbags found in USA vehicles, were riddled with quality control problems.


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