Takata, the Japanese airbag supplier, has declared nearly 34 million vehicles in the United States potentially defective, nearly doubling the number recalled across the nation.
The defective airbag recall is one of the largest consumer product recalls ever.
Airbag inflaters made by Takata can explode violently when they deploy, spraying metal fragments into the passenger compartment. Six deaths and more than 100 injuries have been linked to the flaw.
Takata will file four defect reports with regulators, and the final number of defective cars may shift downward as more tests are performed, according to the people, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. Takata declined to comment. The expanded recall was first reported by The Detroit News.
In February, federal safety regulators began to levy a fine of $14,000 a day against Takata because it had not cooperated fully in the agency’s investigation. The company disputed the claims.
Takata’s airbag problems date back almost 15 years. As early as 2000, customers filed complaints with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration alluding to rupturing airbags in models that contained Takata’s product. Eight years later, in November 2008, Honda recalled more than 4,000 cars with the airbags and then, six months later, after a teenager was killed by fragments from an exploding airbag, the company recalled another 510,000 vehicles.
Those Honda recalls prompted safety regulators to open an investigation into the defect in 2009, but six months later it was closed abruptly. The agency did not even require Takata to produce all of the documents that it had initially requested. Less than a year later, more recalls for cars with the airbags were issued.
As the number of cars under recall continued to expand, the safety agency started a second investigation into the airbags last June and, late last year, began to demand that automakers issue nationwide recalls in the United States.
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