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Takata Admits Fault, Recall Reaches 34 Million Vehicles Defective

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May 20, 2015—In an announcement made on Tuesday, Takata acknowledged that the airbag inflators in nearly 34 million vehicles are defective. This announcement has prompted one of the largest recalls for a safety defect in U.S. history.   

Since 2008, when the first vehicles were recalled for airbag inflators that could rupture in a crash and spray vehicle occupants with metal shards, the supplier has blamed the problem on manufacturing and material handling errors that Takata claimed to have corrected over time.

The acknowledgment on Tuesday of the defect marked a major victory for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) who have faced criticism for acting too slowly on the Takata recall and the recall last year of defective ignition switches by General Motors.

The recall will affect vehicles made by BMW, Chrysler, Daimler Trucks, Ford, General Motors, Honda, Mazda, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Subaru and Toyota. The makes and models of the affected vehicles are expected to be filed in the next couple of days.

About 16 million of the vehicles that are affected by the recall represent a recall that had been limited to high-humidity areas. Replacement parts will be prioritized based on risk, as part of a legal process announced by NHTSA on Tuesday. Priority will go to older vehicles located in high-humidity regions.

In a consent agreement, Takata pledged to cooperate with “all-future regulatory actions that NHTSA undertakes in its ongoing investigation and oversight of Takata,” according to a U.S. Transportation Department statement.

There has been no definitive root cause found for the malfunction, but NHTSA said analysis of test results point to exposure to moisture over a long period of time as a factor.

“We are pleased to have reached this agreement with NHTSA, which presents a clear path forward to advancing safety and restoring the trust of automakers and the driving public. We have worked extensively with NHTSA and our automaker customers over the past year to collect and analyze a multitude of testing data in an effort to support actions that work for all parties and, most importantly, advance driver safety. We are committed to continuing to work closely with NHTSA and our automaker customers to do everything we can to advance the safety of drivers,” Shaigehisa Takada, chairman and CEO of Takata Corp., said in a statement.

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