Honda will expand its Takata driver-side airbag recall

December 3, 2014, 4:08 PM UTC
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This picture taken on November 23, 2014 shows Japanese auto parts maker Takata's logo being displayed at an event in Yokohama, suburban Tokyo. Toyota said on November 27 the company is expanding a recall of cars with airbags made by auto parts maker Takata which have been linked to driver deaths. The world's biggest automaker said it would recall some 57,000 vehicles globally -- about 40,000 units in Japan and some 17,000 overseas -- while subsidiary Daihatsu would recall about 27,500 vehicles in Japan.Some 16 million vehicles from nearly a dozen automakers worldwide, also including Honda, BMW, Ford and General Motors, have been recalled over the problem. AFP PHOTO / Toru YAMANAKA (Photo credit should read TORU YAMANAKA/AFP/Getty Images)
Photograph by Toru Yamanaka — AFP/Getty Images

Honda will expand its recall of vehicles with Takata driver-side airbags nationwide, according to reports.

Japan’s Takata has refused to comply with a U.S. government demand for an expanded recall of its airbags, which can explode and shed shrapnel. The decision was criticized as insufficient by the U.S.

The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and officials from the company are appearing before the U.S. Congress Wednesday.

As early as 2003, Takata ran an investigation into an airbag inflator that ruptured in a BMW vehicle, but concluded the problem was an anomaly, the company said on Tuesday, ahead of a second U.S. congressional hearing on dangerous air bags it supplied.

In addition, technicians employed by the Japanese auto parts supplier in Michigan tested inflators for potential defects in 2004, over a year before Takata has said it first learned of defects that are now linked to five deaths, two people directly involved in Takata’s investigation told Reuters.

The disclosure that Takata was looking into problems with its air bag inflators earlier than previously disclosed could open the company to more intense scrutiny from U.S. lawmakers, regulators and prosecutors in an ongoing criminal investigation into a series of recalls that now targets more than 16 million vehicles worldwide.

Hiroshi Shimizu, Takata’s chief quality officer, told a Senate committee hearing last month that the company did not begin to look into inflator defects until May 2005 when it learned of a 2004 accident involving a Honda Accord. Shimizu is scheduled to testify later on Wednesday at the second hearing.

—Reuters contributed to this report.