TOKYO (Bloomberg) -- Toyota Motor Corp. widened a U.S. recall of its vehicles linked to defective airbags to include some of the same models in China and Japan, after one of the devices ruptured in a car at a scrapyard in its home country.
Toyota will call back about 190,000 vehicles in the two Asian nations, including the Corolla model, the company said today. All of the vehicles produced during the same period for the U.S. market are already covered by existing safety campaigns there, spokesman Dion Corbett said.
The move makes Toyota the third carmaker to add to recalls involving Takata airbags since a U.S. congressional hearing on Wednesday added pressure on automakers to address a global crisis tied to at least five deaths. Honda Motor Co., Ford Motor Co. and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles have since widened the scope of their U.S. safety actions, even after Takata resisted expanding some regional U.S. campaigns nationwide.
"Takata's handling of recalls has been really slow, and we've seen recall after recall for cars that were formerly said to have been safe," Koji Endo, an auto analyst at Advanced Research Japan, said. Automakers "can't let Takata handle the issues anymore."
Scrapyard airbag explosion
Toyota's recall today was triggered by the report of an airbag in a 2003 Toyota WiLL Cypha that ruptured during dismantling at a scrapyard in Japan's central Gifu prefecture, said Nobuhito Kiuchi, a transport ministry official. The carmaker decided to call back the vehicles while it examines the cause of the incident, he said.
The WiLL Cypha's airbag ruptured with such force that it shattered the windshield of the subcompact and left metal shards on the floor, Akihiro Wakayama, a manager at the recycler, told Bloomberg last week. The explosion sounded "like a gunshot" and was "two to three times" louder than normal, Wakayama said. The airbag in the Toyota model was the seventh to have ruptured at scrapyards in Japan since June 2012, where 350,000 of the devices made by Takata were evaluated and recycled every year, according to the transport ministry. The previous six ruptures -- four in Honda's Fit, known as the Jazz in Europe, and two in Toyota's Corolla -- were reported around July 2012 and led to an additional 3 million vehicles being recalled globally.
As part of Japan's Automobile Recycling Law implemented in 2005, dismantlers are required to deploy or remove the airbags before scrapping the vehicles. They are asked to report any malfunction during the process to automakers to investigate whether a recall is needed. Japan will ask carmakers to initiate investigative recalls if safety campaigns are expanded nationwide in the U.S., Masato Sahashi, a transport ministry official, said in Tokyo today.