Automotive

2.7 million vehicles added to Takata recall

Company filed for bankruptcy last month

Takata has added a new type of air bag inflator, expanding the nation’s largest automotive recall by 2.7 million vehicles, The Associated Press reported Tuesday.

The vehicles affected were built by Ford, Nissan and Mazda in their 2005 through 2012 model years, the AP said.

With too much force, Takata inflators can explode and injure drivers and passengers with shrapnel. At least 17 people have died due to the problem.

Up to 42 million vehicles and 69 million inflators have been called back for repairs, the wire service said.

Last month, Takata filed for bankruptcy. With spiraling debts estimated at more than $9 billion, the company said it was seeking bankruptcy protection in Japan and the U.S. It's also selling off the lion's share of its business to a U.S.-based rival.

Key Safety Systems, a Chinese-owned company based in Michigan, is paying $1.6 billion for nearly all of Takata's operations. But it's staying away from the parts that deal with the airbag inflators, which will eventually be wound down.

"We caused troubles for our supporters, those who cooperated with us and the creditors," Chairman Shigehisa Takada said at a news conference last month. "On behalf of Takata, I apologize deeply from the bottom of my heart."

The airbag scandal has led to a slow and painful demise for Takata, which started out as a textile manufacturer more than 80 years ago and later came to specialize in seat belts and other auto safety equipment.

"The sad saga of Takata ... has resulted in the implosion of one of the automotive industry's oldest and most successful suppliers due to technical hubris, mismanagement and a systemic corporate culture of manipulation," said Scott Upham, the CEO of Valient Market Research.

Earlier this year, Takata admitted to manipulating and withholding key information about the faulty inflators for years, even after they started exploding in people's cars. It pleaded guilty in the U.S. to a criminal charge of wire fraud for which it will have to pay $1 billion, including a $125 million fund to compensate victims and their families.


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