Toyota is being forced to recall 2.9 million vehicles equipped with faulty air bag inflators made by Takata, that can explode if they get too hot and have been named as the likely suspect in 16 deaths to date. Toyota models being recalled include Toyota’s Corolla Axio sedan and its RAV4 SUV crossover. These vehicles were sold in Japan, China and other countries in the region.
The vehicles are being recalled due to faulty airbag inflators that can explode if exposed to heat for prolonged periods of time. At least 16 deaths have been linked to exploding Takata inflators, mainly in the U.S.
Reuters reports that Subaru manufacturer Fuji Heavy Industries, Mitsubishi Motors and truck maker Hino have also recalled vehicles due to similar problems with airbag inflators made by Takata Corp. The three companies are recalling a total of approximately 240,000 vehicles between them.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration referred to the recall as the “largest and most complex safety recall in U.S. history.”
Vehicles sold in North America are exempt from the most recent recall, the company says.
According to Consumer Reports, the issue with the Takata inflators in question involves a metal cartridge inside the airbag that is meant to help inflate it but can ignite with greater force than intended. In crashes where the inflator housing is damaged, the cartridge can spray metal shards through the car’s interior at speeds high enough to penetrate the car’s occupants — a potentially fatal malfunction. Moisture, temperature and age can all increase the chances of such a malfunction.
Takata has already paid out 1 billion dollars over their defective airbag inflators.