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Japanese auto supplier Takata recalls 34 million U.S. vehicles over air bag defect

WASHINGTON, D.C. (BNO NEWS) -- Japanese auto supplier Takata on Tuesday acknowledged a defect in its air bag inflators used in nearly 34 million vehicles, prompting the largest ever auto recall in U.S. history.

The U.S. Department of Transportation said in a statement that, at the government's insistence, Takata acknowledged the problem in official filings and also agreed to a national recall of certain types of driver and passenger side air bag inflators that were made with a propellant that can degrade over time and cause it to rupture.

The air bag defect has so far been blamed on six deaths worldwide.

"Today is a major step forward for public safety," said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. "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. We will not stop our work until every air bag is replaced."

Foxx said the U.S. Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) also issued a consent order to Takata, requiring the company to cooperate in all future regulatory actions that NHTSA undertakes in its ongoing investigation and oversight of Takata. In addition, NHTSA announced its intent to begin a formal legal process to organize and prioritize the replacement of defective Takata inflators.

Tuesday's actions expand regional recalls of Takata passenger-side inflators to more than 16 million vehicles in the United States, and expands the recall of driver-side inflators to more than 17 million U.S. vehicles. Ten automakers had previously issued recalls for about 16 million U.S. vehicles, and Tuesday's action more than doubles that number.

"From the very beginning, our goal has been simple: a safe air bag in every vehicle," said NHTSA Administrator Mark Rosekind. "The steps we’re taking today represent significant progress toward that goal. We all know that there is more work to do, for NHTSA, for the auto makers, for parts suppliers, and for consumers. But we are determined to get to our goal as rapidly as possible."

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