Takata Corp. has agreed to declare 33.8 million airbags defective, a move that will double the number of cars and trucks included in what is now the largest auto recall in US automotive history affecting models from 11 carmakers.
The number is double previous estimates for faulty airbags from the manufacturer.
US regulators said Takata has still not found the cause of the defects.
The airbags have been linked to six deaths and more than 100 injuries.
“Today is a major step forward for public safety,” US Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said.
“The Department of Transportation is taking the proactive steps necessary to ensure that defective inflators are replaced with safe ones as quickly as possible, and that the highest risks are addressed first.”
The Transport Department’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said its analysis of test results “points to moisture infiltrating the defective inflators over extended periods of time as a factor”.
That moisture may make the chemicals that ignite to set off an airbag burn too quickly, causing the structure to break and “sends metal shards into the passenger cabin that can lead to serious injury or death”, said the administration.
Both passenger and driver airbags will be recalled in an effort that started in high-humidity areas of the US, but will now be national.
Last week, Honda and Daihatsu said they would recall some 5 million cars globally to replace the potentially deadly airbag inflators made by Japanese air bag maker Takata.
Toyota and Nissan also said they would be recalling 6.5 million vehicles over the same issue.
Honda said that the models affected included the Fit subcompact and would not affect its cars sold in the US, where most of the deaths occurred.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has expanded a recall of vehicles with potentially dangerous Takata airbags to 7.8 million.
The NHTSA warned that owners should take “immediate action”.
If deployed with force, the airbags have the potential to eject deadly shrapnel at passengers.
The NHTSA has identified 10 manufacturers who used Takata as a supplier, including General Motors, Honda, and Toyota.
The agency has told those who might own affected vehicles to check the list at www.safercar.gov, and specifically warned those living in more humid climates such as Florida and Hawaii to get their vehicles inspected.
“Responding to these recalls, whether old or new, is essential to personal safety and it will help aid our ongoing investigation into Takata airbags and what appears to be a problem related to extended exposure to consistently high humidity and temperatures,” said NHTSA deputy administrator David Friedman in a statement.
The NHTSA has expanded a recall of vehicles with potentially dangerous Takata airbags to 7.8 million
Initially, the NHTSA said that only 4.7 million cars could be affected, but it has increased the number of vehicles twice in recent days.
Japanese supplier Takata warned recently that older airbags could explode with too much force, which would send plastic and metal parts towards passengers with enough force to injure them.
Takata said it estimated that around 12 million vehicles around the globe may contain the parts.
The recall notices have been ongoing for the past 18 months, but regulators and car manufacturers have warned that only a small percentage of those cars potentially affected have been returned and inspected.
The majority of the affected vehicles – more than five million – are Honda cars manufactured between 2001 and 2011, including the Accord, Civic, and Pilot models.
Honda engineers are racing to build the world’s fastest lawnmower after being put up to the task by Top Gear Magazine.
They are targeting a speed of 130 mph (210 km/h).
That would easily beat the current record of 96.5 mph claimed by the fuel additive firm, Gold Eagle.
A first look at the machine – showing flames coming out of its exhaust – has been posted online.
Honda said it had taken on the project to promote its “sporty credentials”.
“The main engineering challenge stems from the need to retain the look of the lawnmower on which it is based, and the ability to still cut grass while achieving the speed and the handling characteristics required for this type of vehicle,” said Peter Crolla, team manager at Team Dynamics – Honda’s UK motor racing team partner – which is overseeing the project.
“To our knowledge, this has never been done before, certainly using this mower and engineer combination, and as such there are no previous learnings to draw upon.”
Top Gear Magazine said it had set a deadline of June 17 for the team to complete work on the machine.
The Japanese carmaker has upgraded one of its mowers by replacing its engine with one normally used in motorcycles.
Honda engineers are racing to build the world’s fastest lawnmower after being put up to the task by Top Gear Magazine
A steering rack sourced from a Morris Minor car has been fitted to offer greater control, the mower’s seat has been lowered, the wheels and tyres have been substituted with those of a quad bike, and the metal part of the chassis that normally holds the blades has been replaced with a glass fibre equivalent to make it lighter.
The alterations have forced the engineers to rethink how the machine cuts grass.
The original model featured metal blades, but they had to be removed as the engineers found it too complicated to connect them to the new engine.
Instead the machine now houses two electric motors with lengths of brake cable attached to them. These will spin round at about 4,000 rotations per minute to cut lawns down to size.
The team believes that, when complete, the machine should be able to accelerate from 0-60 mph in about four seconds
“There’s no scientific reason why we asked Honda to build this,” said Piers Ward, senior road tester at Top Gear Magazine.
“The grass needed mowing and everything on the market seemed a bit slow. Why take an hour to mow a football pitch when you can do it in five minutes?”
In fact, racing lawnmowers at high speeds is not a new phenomenon.
The British Lawn Mower Racing Association traces its origins back to a West Sussex competition involving 80 of the machines in 1973.
Over the years, famous names including Formula 1 winner Sir Stirling Moss, Le Mans champion Derek Bell and the actor Oliver Reed have taken part in its events.
However, the organization said Top Gear’s mower would not be able to compete in July’s World Championships because of strict limits on the amount of modifications entrants can make to their motors and mower bodies.
“After all the work that’s been done to the machine, it isn’t really a mower as such anymore,” said Mark Robinson a member of the BLMRA’s committee.
“Mower racing is not all about power – handling is an important aspect too – and in fact we think our machines would still be relatively competitive against Honda’s model on a tight track.
“But we’ll still be watching Top Gear’s progress with interest.”
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