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Takata airbag recall expands to nearly 34 million vehicles

Takata Corp has announced that it is doubling its recall of defective airbags. At nearly 34 million vehicles made by 11 auto companies, it is the largest automotive recall in the history of the United States. Quite a “feat” for a company that initially resisted issuing a recall at all.

We have spread the word about these defective airbags several times in this blog. A flaw in the system can cause them to inflate with too much force, causing plastic and metal shrapnel to burst into the cab. So far, six deaths have been linked to this problem.

Still, Takata initially denied that a recall of this size was necessary, and dragged its feet with regard to an investigation by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration. In response to pressure to expand the recall, the company claimed the airbag defect is not “officially recognized.” In February, NHTSA began fining the auto parts maker $14,000 per day for failing to cooperate.

Prior to the latest announcement, 16.6 million vehicles in the U.S. had already been recalled to fix the airbags. The expansion will roughly double that total. Globally, more than 53 million vehicles with Takata airbags have been affected since 2008, according to Reuters.

Though vehicles from nearly a dozen automakers are included in the expanding recall, all six deaths occurred in Hondas. Honda is Takata’s biggest customer.

Besides criminal and regulatory investigations in Takata’s conduct, the company, the world’s second-biggest manufacturer of airbags, is facing several class action lawsuits from victims. As we begin to get an idea of the scope of the danger, it would be no surprise if more and more injured people come forward.