Honda Motor Co. said Friday it will begin the next round of recalls for Takata passenger front airbag inflators a couple months ahead of schedule because it has adequate replacement parts in stock and has experienced high repair rates so far.
The planned recall covers about 1 million Honda and Acura vehicles in the U.S. with inflators using an ammonium nitrate propellant that lack a chemical additive to prevent moisture absorption. In 2016, NHTSA ordered the phased recall of up to 40 million more Takata inflators after determining that moisture and high temperatures can degrade the propellant, causing it to explode with too much force when an airbag deploys and sending metal shards from the canister into the vehicle compartment.
To date, 23 people worldwide have been killed by the defective inflators, with at least 180 injured, most of them in the U.S. The recall covers all major automakers, but Honda has the most vehicles on the road with the faulty component.
Honda's U.S. sales and service arm, American Honda Motor Co., is overseeing the recall and has completed repairs on 78 percent of vehicles. Toyota Motor Corp.'s completion rate -- 66 percent -- is the second highest, according to NHTSA data.
About 37 million vehicles with 50 million defective Takata airbags are under recall. Additional airbags are scheduled to be recalled by December 2019, bringing the total number of affected airbags to between 65 million and 70 million.
The next round of recalls for all automakers is scheduled for December, with NHTSA likely to announce the effective date in January.
Honda said it is accelerating the pace of the recall because it has the parts inventory and a high completion rate. Other automakers were slower to contract with alternative inflator suppliers and therefore did not have enough inventory to meet repair demand.
Honda also has been aggressive in trying to contact Honda and Acura owners to take their vehicles to a dealer for the repairs, even going so far as to make house calls offering round-trip tow and repair service.
The Japanese automaker said it will begin mailing notifications for the next phase of recalls in late November.
With the recall, about 12.9 million Honda and Acura vehicles have been, or now are, subject to recall.