Honda Motor Co has admitted that a Takata airbag inflator ruptured in a fatal car crash earlier this week in Malaysia, as millions of vehicles’ units remain unrepaired.
- Fatal crash occurred in Kuala Lumpur on Wednesday involving a 2004 Honda City
- Death appears to mark the 23rd fatality linked to defective airbag
- Five Honda-related deaths have been confirmed in Malaysia and 13 in the US
The fatality appears to be the 23rd death worldwide linked to the faulty part that can emit deadly metal fragments.
The Japanese automaker has previously confirmed 18 deaths since 2009 linked to the issue that sparked the largest auto industry safety recall in history, involving about 100 million inflators among 19 major automakers.
In addition to the Honda deaths, Ford Motor Co has reported two Takata-linked deaths in the United States since 2015.
Honda also has reported three other fatal crashes in vehicles equipped with Takata airbag inflators that ruptured, including the new one in Malaysia.
No official cause of death has been given by local authorities in the three crashes.
The latest incident took place on Wednesday in a 2004 Honda City vehicle in Malaysia’s capital Kuala Lumpur, Honda said.
Of the confirmed Honda deaths, 13 have been in the United States and five in Malaysia.
Honda previously offered its condolences to the family of a Honda driver killed in a car crash in New South Wales last year — police linked the death to a faulty Takata airbag.
Honda said the ill-fated 2004 City vehicle in Malaysia had been recalled in 2015, but repairs were never made.
According to the ACCC, about 25,000 of the most dangerous older Takata airbags known as “alpha bags” are still on the road.
Nearly 30 million US vehicles remain unrepaired in the recall.
More than 290 injuries worldwide are also linked to Takata inflators that can explode, unleashing metal shrapnel inside cars and trucks.
The defect led Takata to file for bankruptcy protection in June, 2017.
Honda, Ford and Mazda Motor Corp have urgently warned owners of some older US vehicles to stop driving them until they get repairs made.
Ford and Mazda’s warning covers some 2006 Ford Ranger and Mazda B-Series utilities, while Honda’s warning covers some 2001-2003 model cars.
In April, auto components maker Key Safety Systems completed a $2.1 billion ($US1.6 billion) deal to acquire Takata.
The merged company is now known as Joyson Safety Systems and is a subsidiary of Ningbo Joyson Electronic Corp.
Millions of airbags still unrepaired, US legal action
Last month in the US, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) said it would hold meetings with 12 major automakers that failed to fulfil a December 2017 target deadline for completing repairs on the highest-priority vehicles with dangerous Takata air bag inflators.
NHTSA said the 12 automakers have collectively repaired 65 per cent of 20 million vehicles in the highest priority groups, leaving about 7 million unrepaired.
NHTSA has been criticised for not doing more to prod automakers to fix vehicles faster. A US Senate hearing in March also looked at the issue.
Takata pleaded guilty in 2017 single felony count of wire fraud to resolve a US Justice Department investigation and agreed to a $1.3 billion ($US1 billion) settlement.