WASHINGTON -- The U.S. Department of Transportation today said it will press the auto industry to accelerate the pace of replacements for defective Takata Corp. airbag inflators and signaled a likely widening of the industry's largest ever recall.
U.S. officials now say at least 184 people have been injured in incidents involving potentially deadly Takata airbags.
On a conference call with reporters, the department said the Takata recall would eventually include about 42 million U.S. vehicles and between 64 million and 69 million airbag inflators.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration issued a list today of all vehicle models from 19 automakers that are involved in the Takata recalls.
New to the list is the Tesla Motors Inc. Model S, with the recall affecting certain cars from the 2012 to 2016 model years.
About 12.5 million of the 46 million airbag inflators already recalled have been replaced, said a NHTSA official.
Takata spokesman Jared Levy said in a statement the company backed "NHTSA's efforts to accelerate the Coordinated Remedy Program and target a 100 percent recall completion rate." Levy said Takata "has dramatically ramped up production and capacity of airbag replacement kits in advance of the increased demand that will come as additional recalls take effect."
'Ticking time bomb'
U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., complained about the slow pace of the recall in a statement, saying it meant that many of the faulty airbags will not be replaced until next decade.
"Drivers should not have to wait that long to get what could be a ticking time bomb out of their cars," Nelson said.
U.S. safety regulators have linked 11 deaths in the U.S. to Takata airbags that ruptured, sending metal shrapnel flying inside vehicles.
Worldwide, at least 16 deaths are now linked to the defective airbag inflators including five in Malaysia. Nearly 100 million Takata airbag inflators have been ordered to be withdrawn globally.
Nine of the 11 U.S. deaths have been reported in 2001-2003 Honda Motor Co. and Acura vehicles, which NHTSA classified in June as high risk. The agency has urged owners to stop driving the vehicles immediately, until they get repaired.
The 313,000 vehicles identified in June have as high as a 50 percent chance of a dangerous rupture in a crash, NHTSA said.
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