TOKYO – Toyota is recalling 185,000 vehicles in Japan and 5,000 in China for a possibly defective air bag supplied by Takata, the Japanese manufacturer at the centre of an unfolding safety scandal.
Toyota Motor Corp. said Thursday the latest air bag problem was discovered as a result of passenger-side air bags in some Toyota vehicles rupturing when intentionally deployed while being scrapped, a routine procedure under Japanese law for scrapping vehicles.
Toyota said it was not aware of any fatalities or injuries related to the latest problem.
The recall includes vehicles produced from September 2002 through to December 2003, including Corolla models, Noah, Voxy, Mark II and Will.
The driver-side air bags in the affected models are not being recalled because they were not supplied by Takata, said Toyota spokesman Naoki Sumino.
Some 14 million vehicles, including Toyota cars, have been recalled worldwide over Takata air bags, 8 million of them in the U.S. At issue are air bags whose inflators can explode, hurling shrapnel into the passenger compartment. At least five deaths and dozens of injuries have been linked to the problem worldwide.
The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is pressing for a nationwide recall. The recalls have so far been in high-humidity areas such as the Gulf Coast, because of evidence that moisture can cause the propellant in the air bags to burn too quickly.
Toyota said it still did not know the cause of the air bag problems.
“We decided to conduct a recall campaign as a precautionary measure and replace the inflator with a new one to help minimize potential risk to customers and to investigate the possible root cause through tests on the replaced parts,” the company said.
Takata has defied the NHTSA order to carry out a nationwide recall, insisting that automakers carry out the recalls, not suppliers, but promised to co-operate with any automakers that decide to do recalls.
Honda Motor Co. responded by saying it will comply with the NHTSA order. Toyota does not have any vehicles that fall under the expanded recall that the NHTSA wants in the U.S.
Takata has said it is investigating, but has repeatedly said its air bags are safe.