About 7 million cars equipped with Takata Corp (7312.T) air bag inflators without a drying agent are to be recalled by March 2019, announced Japan’s transport ministry on Friday; bringing the total recalled in the country to 19.6 million cars.
Japan’s statement may further increase Takata’s probable recall costs if the air bag maker is found to be responsible for the defective inflators.
Currently, the company is in bailout talks with some possible investors including private equity firm KKR & Co (KKR.N), according to people familiar with the matter.
The transport ministry said Takata and automakers had found the absence of desiccants could make ammonium nitrate used in the air bag inflators fade when exposed to temperature changes over a long period of time.
The decision comes after U.S. transport authorities expanded its recall, this month, of air bag inflators made by the Japanese parts supplier, which will consequently result in an additional 35 million to 40 million products withdrawn from the U.S. market.
The latest recall covers mainly passenger-side airbags, and will be conducted in phases, according to the ministry, noting that it did not comment on which automakers were affected.
The defect has been linked to 13 deaths and more than 100 injuries globally, mainly in America, because the ammonium nitrate-based propellant used in the inflators has a tendency to explode violently in hot conditions; spraying metal shrapnel into vehicle compartments.
Honda Motor Co (7267.T), once Takata’s biggest buyer of airbags, earlier this month said it would recall 21 million more potentially faulty airbag inflators globally, while Toyota Motor Corp (7203.T) last week said it would recall almost 1.6 million additional U.S. vehicles installed with front passenger side Takata air bags.