The latest Toyota recall of 1.6 million vehicles with defective air bags represents only a part of the 15 million vehicles with this problem that the carmaker has recalled since 2013. This recall involves 22 models sold in Japan, including the Vitz and Corolla, manufactured between January 2004 and December 2005, along with models in Britain, Italy and Spain. Japan’s Takata makes the hazardous inflators that explode too forcefully and send out shrapnel.
While no one has reported a harmful incident relating to the air bags with Toyota vehicles, a person in a Nissan car incurred an injury recently in Japan. However, prior incidents illustrate the danger of the defective inflators. They have been responsible for eight deaths and hundreds of injuries worldwide.
The air bag problem has caused Takata’s profits to take a nosedive. Toyota, Nissan, Ford and Honda have elected not to use the defective air bags in vehicles under construction. Moreover, American carmakers have recalled 19 million vehicles with the inflators, an action that drove the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to impose on Takata fines of up to $200 million, which is the largest civil penalty in the organization’s history. (For more information, see Air Bag Manufacturer Takata Faces $70 Million Fine for Defective Air Bags.) In November, Takata reported that recall costs led to a half-year loss of $45.8 million. The inflator manufacturer also cut 75 percent off its profit forecast for the year.
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