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Toyota expands vehicle recall in Japan due to airbag defect

LiveMint logoLiveMint 11-06-2014 Craig Trudell

Tokyo: Toyota Motor Corp., the world’s largest car maker, expanded a recall that began last year over faulty airbags after parts-maker Takata Corp. told its customers that further fixes may be needed.

Toyota recalled an additional 650,000 vehicles in Japan, including its Corolla cars, the Japan-based company said in an email on Wednesday. Toyota said it had received one report of a seat-cover burn related to the defective airbags.

Toyota is the first major Japanese car maker to widen last year’s recall linked to Takata’s airbags, with Honda Motor Co. and Nissan Motor Co. saying they’re studying the issue. Scrutiny of potential safety flaws is on the rise across the auto industry as General Motors Co. faces investigations for its recall of millions of cars with potentially deadly ignition switches.

Toyota, Honda and Nissan recalled more than 3 million vehicles last year because of defective airbag inflators from Tokyo-based Takata.

In April, Toyota called back more than 6 million vehicles worldwide, a month after agreeing to a record $1.2 billion settlement with the US department of justice over its handling of problems with sudden unintended acceleration in vehicles recalled in 2009 and 2010.

Takata notified Honda of potential mistakes with last year’s recall, though none of them are Honda cars, said Akemi Ando, a spokeswoman at Japan’s third-largest car maker. Honda is studying whether to issue a recall, she said.

Nissan is investigating whether the airbag issue affects its vehicles and is in contact with Takata and regulators, Nissan spokesman Chris Keeffe said. Nissan is committed to a high-level of customer safety and stands ready to take prompt action as necessary, he said.

DOJ Settlement

Toyota agreed to an independent monitor of its quality and safety procedures as part of its March settlement, which included the largest criminal penalty ever imposed in the US on an automaker.

President Akio Toyoda has spent years trying to restore Toyota’s reputation for quality after the 2009-2010 recalls. Toyoda, 58, blamed the safety crisis at the company founded by his grandfather on over-expansion in the preceding years.

Toyota has said it will refrain from building new car plants until at least 2016. The company also said it improved safety procedures by giving regional operations more autonomy to make fixes after being too dependent in the past on decision-making in Japan. Bloomberg

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