U.S. says 2.7 million additional Takata air bag inflators to be recalled

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said Tuesday that new testing is prompting Takata Corp 7312.T to declare 2.7 million air bag inflators defective in Ford Motor Co F.N, Nissan Motor Co 7201.T and Mazda Motor Corp 7261.T vehicles.

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Takata air bag inflators are already linked to 17 deaths and more than 180 injuries worldwide, and the recalls will eventually cover about 125 million inflators. The auto safety agency said new testing is prompting the recall of some driver-side air bags built from 2015 through 2012.

Nissan said it will recall 627,000 Versa cars from 2007-2012 model years, including 515,000 in the United States “out of an abundance of caution.” It will notify owners within 60 days with additional instructions.

Ford spokesman John Cangany said the issue covers about 2.2 million Ford vehicles, and the company has five days to respond to the Takata filing. The automaker is “aware of Takata’s submission, and we have been in regular contact with the agency on the issue. Importantly, we aren’t aware of any incidents, and test data doesn’t suggest any issues,” he said.

Mazda said the new recall impacts just 6,000 B-series trucks.

More than 65 percent of 46.2 million previously recalled Takata airbag inflators in the United States have not been repaired. The issue is the largest ever auto safety recall covering 17 automakers. Takata filed for bankruptcy protection in June.

Takata inflator ruptures occur after long-term exposure to high humidity, NHTSA has said.

Prior Takata recalls have involved air bag inflators without a drying agent. The new 2.7 million air bag inflators being recalled involve a drying agent, but Takata said testing showed ruptures could still take place.

“Takata has told the public that their line of air bag inflators with moisture absorbent was safe. This recall now raises serious questions about the threat posed by all of Takata’s ammonium nitrate-based airbags,” U.S. Senator Bill Nelson said in a statement. “If even more are found to be defective, it will take us from the biggest recall ever to something that could become mind-boggling.”

Honda Motor Co 7267.T said Monday it had confirmed an 11th U.S. death involving one of its vehicles tied to a faulty Takata air bag inflator.

Takata expects to recall by 2019 about 125 million vehicles worldwide, including more than 60 million in the United States, Scott Caudill, chief operating officer of TK Holdings, Takata’s U.S. unit, said in June.

Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Cynthia Osterman