Toyota, Honda, Nissan, and Mazda recall a combined 3.4 mil. vehicles worldwide for defective airbags
Toyota, Nissan, Honda, and Mazda are recalling a combined 3.39 million vehicles globally, all traced back to an identical problem with the passenger-side air bag, supplied by Takata.
Significance Toyota is the worst-hit automaker, with 1.73 million affected vehicles, followed by Honda, which has recalled 1.14 million vehicles globally.
Implications While the recall is huge in numbers, the single-source nature of the fault and the thankful lack of serious incident should mitigate the collateral damage to reputations.
The recall is not welcome news for Toyota as it strives to rebuild its quality reputation in North America, underlined by the media attention this routine recall has drawn.
Four of the largest Japanese automakers – Toyota, Nissan, Honda, and Mazda – are recalling a combined 3.39 million vehicles globally for an identical problem with air bags on the passenger side, reports Agence France-Presse (AFP). Japan's transport ministry, which received recall reports from the concerned automakers, said the number of vehicles affected would reach 2.92 million. Currently, there was no explanation for the discrepancy in the total. Toyota and Nissan said the air bags were made by Tokyo-based Takata, while the ministry said the air bag parts were supplied by a single company but declined to disclose the name. Takata spokesperson Toyohiro Hishikawa said his company has been informed that global automakers, including non-Japanese manufacturers, will recall about 2 million vehicles globally due to problems with air bags it had supplied, but not 3.4 million.
A Toyota spokesperson said his company alone was recalling a total of 1.73 million vehicles, manufactured between November 2000 and March 2004 in Japan or abroad, due to a defect in passenger-side air bags. The recall included 580,000 vehicles in North America (including 170,000 in the United States), another 490,000 vehicles in Europe and 320,000 in Japan. Affected models include the Corolla, Tundra and Lexus SC. "The involved vehicles are equipped with front passenger air bag inflators which could have been assembled with improperly manufactured propellant wafers, which could cause the inflator to rupture and the front passenger air bag to deploy abnormally in the event of a crash," the spokesperson elaborated. The spokesperson said this abnormal inflation "could also burn part of the vehicle's inside and cause fire" but denied any recorded instances of this happening. Toyota received five reports of air bag problems, three in the US and two in Japan, but there have been no injuries, added the spokesperson. Toyota will replace the faulty inflator with new ones, a fix that is expected to take about an hour to two-and-a-half hours for most models, said the spokesperson, without disclosing the costs related to the recall.
Nissan and Honda released statements giving similar explanations. A Nissan spokesperson said the company was recalling a total of 480,000 vehicles globally, all of which were manufactured in Japan between August 2000 and January 2004. The Yokohama-based automaker said vehicles in North America and Europe were also affected but could not furnish details. Recalled models in Japan include the Cube, X-Trail, Maxima and Teana. Honda is recalling 1.14 million vehicles worldwide, with about 680,000 in North America, 270,000 in Japan and 64,000 in Europe. Affected models include the Civic, CR-V and Odyssey.
Mazda said its recall target would reach 45,463 units worldwide, including 4,384 at home, with affected models including the RX-8 and Mazda6. The recall apparently extends to Latin America, China, the Middle East, and Africa, and will be reported later in the day in accordance with local regulations of each country.
Outlook and implications
The huge recall is expected to generate a good deal of unwelcome attention, particularly for Toyota as it strives to rebuild its reputation for quality in North America. The current recall is reportedly the fourth Toyota recall since October last year to involve more than a million cars, and the second this year after the one in January. The announcement comes as the company has been steadily rebuilding market share in the region following the recall of 2009–10 that was related to unintended acceleration problems and the supply problems experienced following the Northeast Japan earthquake disaster.
For Nissan, too, the recall follows the one in March when it said it will recall five 2013 model-year vehicles in the US due to faulty sensors that can permanently turn off the front seat passenger air bag. That recall, expected to begin this month, involves Altima, Sentra, Pathfinder, Infiniti JX35 SUVs and Leaf electric vehicle.
Takata derives nearly 75% of its revenues from outside Japan and this is the biggest recall involving the company since 1995, when several automakers called back a record 9 million vehicles to replace faulty seat belts supplied by the company. Takata is the second-largest manufacturer of automotive safety parts globally.