Business / Corporate

Automakers in Japan to probe possible new problem in Takata air bags

Kyodo

The transport ministry said Friday it has ordered automakers to look into the safety of their products after a new problem seems to have been discovered in air bags produced by now-defunct Takata Corp.

The order was issued after a crash in Australia this year resulted in a fatality that is believed to have been caused by a different type of Takata air-bag inflator.

Seven automakers using the same inflator, including Toyota Motor Corp., Honda Motor Co., and Mazda Motor Corp., received the order.

The inflator, manufactured between 1995 and 1999, is different from the one blamed for earlier massive worldwide recalls, the ministry said.

In the latest case, the reason for the bag exploding and spreading metal fragments remains unknown.

The seven automakers have been asked to report to the ministry whether they need to recall any vehicles.

The move came after Australian transport safety authorities said last month they were informed by BMW AG of a voluntary recall involving cars using an inflator produced between 1995 and 1999 because it could explode dangerously.

Besides the fatal crash, there was another incident in Australia this year that resulted in a serious injury that is believed to have been due to a malfunction of the inflator. Similar accidents have also occurred in the United States and Cyprus, but the ministry said so far it has received no such reports domestically.

The other four automakers are Suzuki Motor Corp., Mitsubishi Motors Co., Mitsubishi Fuso Truck and Bus Corp., and BMW’s Japan unit.

About 150,000 cars equipped with Takata air-bag inflators are estimated to be in use in Japan, according to the ministry.