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Toyota Expands Takata Air Bag Recall in Japan, China, Cause Unknown

A Toyota car is seen during a presentation of the car maker's active safety support systems technology in Tokyo

Toyota Motor Corp said on Thursday it would call back 190, 000 more vehicles, mostly in Japan, to replace potentially defective air bags made by Takata Corp , the latest in a long line of recalls for the embattled auto parts supplier.

The move follows an unusual deployment of a Takata-made air bag inflator in a 2003-model Toyota Will Cypha subcompact at a scrapyard in Japan last month, and the cause of the potential problem is still unknown, Japan’s transport ministry said.

Toyota said it would recall 185, 000 vehicles across 19 models including the Corolla and Alphard in Japan, and 5, 000 in China, as a preventative measure and to investigate the cause. It said it was not aware of injuries or deaths related to the problem.

The vehicles subject to the recall were produced between September 2002 and December 2003. Toyota said the recall covers vehicles equipped with the same model year and type of inflator that was in the Will Cypha. That inflator was produced in January 2003 at Takata’s Monclova factory in Mexico.

The transport ministry said it instructed other automakers to check whether their vehicles could be affected by the same problem. Nearly 2.8 million cars have been recalled in Japan to date, and more than 16 million worldwide since 2008.

Toyota said it will replace front passenger-side air bag inflators or disable the air bag system and warn against sitting in the passenger seat if a replacement is not immediately available.

Takata’s inflators have been linked to five deaths, in the United States and Malaysia, exploding too forcefully and spraying metal shards inside cars.

Takata this week rejected an order by the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to declare its inflators defective and expand an investigative recall in hot and humid regions to the rest of the country. It said its own data did not support the need for such a move, and that doing so could divert replacement parts from the areas that need them most.

Takata, automakers and regulators are still trying to find out what’s causing the air bag ruptures related to the regional recall. Extending that nationwide would add more than 8 million vehicles to the mix, Takata has said.

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