CORRECTED-Mitsubishi recalls Lancer sedans with Takata air bags

Fri Jul 18, 2014 12:15pm EDT

(Corrects paragraph 1 and headline to collectively show that Mitsubishi is one of nine automakers, not the ninth, to say it will conduct a limited regional recall, deletes second sentence in 7th paragraph saying Mitsubishi was the last to announce recall)

DETROIT, July 18 (Reuters) - Mitsubishi Motors Corp is recalling cars made with Takata Corp air bags in Florida, Hawaii, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

In a filing posted on Friday with the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Mitsubishi said it will conduct a limited recall of model year 2004 and 2005 Lancer sedans with Takata passenger-side air bags that have inflators that may cause them to open with too much force.

"In the event of a crash necessitating deployment of the passenger-side frontal air bag, the inflator could rupture with metal fragments striking and potentially seriously injuring the vehicle occupants," the NHTSA said on its website.

Two letters from Mitsubishi to NHTSA, dated July 7 and July 10 and included in the filing, described the potential safety hazard.

In the past five years, about 12 million vehicles with Takata air bags or inflators have been recalled.

Also on Friday, the Japanese auto parts supplier announced a "special loss" of about 45 billion yen ($440 million) because of the problem.

Takata told NHTSA last month that there were nine automakers in the U.S. market with its air bags sold in Florida, Hawaii, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands that have potential safety concerns, including Mitsubishi.

"Due to NHTSA's belief that humidity is a contributing factor to the inflator condition at issue, the (recall) will be limited to affected vehicles that are registered in, or were originally sold in Florida, Hawai, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands," Mitsubishi said in one of its letters to NHTSA.

Some of the automakers have expanded that to include other warm-weather states or the entire country.

Mitsubishi said it knew of no crashes, injuries or deaths related to Lancer sedans with Takata air bags. It said that it has not found any safety defect on its own and is recalling the cars because it is working "in good faith" with NHTSA.

Earlier this week, BMW said it would recall 1.6 million 3 Series cars with Takata front passenger-side air bags.

The number of Lancer sedans recalled was not given in the documents posted on NHTSA's website.

(Reporting by Bernie Woodall; Editing by Steve Orlofsky)

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