Honda To Expand Takata Driver-Side Airbag Recall Nationwide | Edmunds

Honda To Expand Takata Driver-Side Airbag Recall Nationwide

WASHINGTON Honda said it will expand the Takata driver-side airbag recall nationwide due to customer concerns.

Rick Schostek, executive vice president of Honda North America, announced the nationwide recall during testimony before a House panel on Wednesday.

"Our customers have concerns and we want to address them," Schostek said.

His announcement signaled a dramatic split from Japanese auto supplier Takata, which told the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in a December 2 letter that it will not conduct a nationwide recall of potentially defective airbags.

"Takata firmly believes that the currently available information and data do not support a nationwide recall of vehicles equipped with the subject inflators," said Takata in a letter to NHTSA.

Takata told NHTSA that a nationwide recall would add more than 8 million vehicles to those that are already being recalled in the U.S. Approximately 8 million vehicles from 10 automakers are involved in the recall for potentially defective Takata airbags that can explode, spraying shrapnel at vehicle occupants.

In testimony before the House Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing and Trade, Takata's Hiroshi Shimizu said: "Takata continues to believe that the public safety is best served if the identified areas of high absolute humidity remain the priority for the replacement of suspect inflators."

Shimizu is Takata's senior vice president for global quality assurance.

In his written testimony, Shimizu said "any expanded action should be conducted in a phased manner to ensure that the supply of replacement units continues to be directed first where they are needed most — to vehicles in the areas of high absolute humidity."

Honda's Schostek warned that "a parts shortage" may occur due to the nationwide recall, but he said the automaker has been in discussions with Takata and two other suppliers to increase the parts supply.

"We will continue to discuss with NHTSA and Takata how to best manage the supply issue," Schostek said.

Honda will prioritize the highest risk areas in the country as the recall expands. Those include areas of high absolute humidity, especially Gulf Coast states.

Honda said it will also offer loaner or rental cars at no cost to consumers awaiting airbag recalls.

Legislators castigated Takata for rejecting NHTSA's request for a nationwide airbag recall.

Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) said she is "very disappointed."

Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI) said: "To our witnesses I pose this question: What should I say to the mom from Michigan who asks me if she and her family are safe behind the wheel?"

He added: "I'm from the auto state. I'm sorry to say it's been a bad year for auto safety."

In other testimony, Craig Westbrook, BMW of North America vice president, told the panel BMW is "significantly increasing our loaner vehicle fleet to provide any customer who needs alternative transportation with either a loaner or a rental vehicle."

Abbas Saadat, Toyota's regional product safety executive and a vice president at Toyota North America, told the panel that the automaker is "working to get replacement parts to Toyota dealers and this effort is going well in humid regions."

He added: "If parts are unavailable, we have empowered dealers to meet our customers' needs and minimize their inconvenience. Dealers are making loaner vehicles available and even towing affected vehicles for customers, if necessary."

Edmunds says: Honda is urging owners of any affected cars to contact their local dealer for next steps.

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