Takata Corp. shares fell 23 per cent in Tokyo today as the U.S. government urged car owners to immediately fix the company-supplied airbags because of a potentially deadly defect.
The infiltrator mechanism in the airbags can rupture, which can make shrapnel to fly out once the bags are deployed during collisions. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), which has been investigating the problem since June, at least four people have died due to this problem, while three people have suffered multiple injuries.
In a follow-up to earlier recall notices, the NHTSA is urging owners of Toyota, Honda, Mazda, BMW, Nissan, Ford and General Motors vehicles to replace passenger and driver airbags since both of them could be defective. It especially warned car owners in Florida, Puerto Rico, Guam, Saipan, American Samoa, Virgin Islands and Hawaii since high humidity in those areas makes the problem worse.
The organization also asked people to look up if their car has been affected by going here, where they can type their vehicle identification number and see what is going.
Toyota said it’s collaborating with Takata to figure out the cause of the rapture and measure how it’s affected by humidity. On top of that, the automaker issued a recall on Monday, which covers passenger airbags in 247,000 older models, including the Lexus SC, Corolla, Matrix, Sequoia and Tundra, but it may expand the recall area once more testing is done.
So far, Honda has the highest number of recalled vehicles at about 2.8 million, with Toyota occupying the second spot at 778,000 and BMW the third at 574,000.
This issue could potentially affect more than 20 million cars in the U.S. since carmakers have already recalled around 12 million vehicles worldwide, including Canada.
Takata has formally apologised for the problem, promising to prevent it from happening ever again.