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BMW expands Takata air bag recall

David Shepardson
Detroit News Washington Bureau

Washington — Under government pressure, BMW AG agreed on Monday to expand its recall of vehicles with possible defective driver-side air bags by 140,000 3 Series cars from model years 2004-06.

BMW becomes the last of five automakers to expand Takata driver-side recalls after the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration demanded the action Nov. 18.

“A small number of such cases in certain areas of the U.S. have been reported,” BMW said in a statement. “None of the reported cases involve BMW vehicles. Nonetheless, the company will cooperate fully with NHTSA by replacing the driver-side front air bag.”

BMW spokesman Dave Buchko said the callback includes all the vehicles NHTSA had sought.

The automaker already had recalled about 11,000 cars with driver-side Takata air bags in high-humidity states.

“All five affected automakers have agreed to conduct a national recall of defective driver’s side air bags made by Takata at our request,” David Friedman, NHTSA deputy administrator. “BMW notified us today of their intent and we’re reviewing their official filing to ensure that it captures all affected models and years.”-

Automakers have now recalled in total more than 61 million vehicles in 2014, more than doubling the previous record of 30.8 million vehicles called back in 2004. Leading all automakers is General Motors Co., which has recalled more than 30 million vehicles this year, including more than 26 million in the United States.

On Friday, Chrysler said it would expand its recall of driver-side air bags to all of the United States, and call back an additional 3 million cars and trucks. Chrysler was the the fourth of five automakers to agree to national recalls after NHTSA’s demand.

Last week, Ford Motor Co. also said it would expand its recall of vehicles for Takata driver-side air bags nationally, adding another 447,000 vehicles to the recall. Honda and Mazda had previously agreed.

In total, 10 automakers have now recalled more than 14.6 million vehicles with Takata air bags since 2013. The automakers met earlier this month in Romulus to discuss hiring an outside engineering firm for independent testing. NHTSA also has hired an outside firm for testing.

Automakers still don't know the root cause of why inflators in some air bags explode, throwing shrapnel at drivers and passengers. Most — but not all of the exploding inflators — have been in hot, humid areas like Florida.

Takata air bags are linked to at least five deaths and at least 50 injuries. All of the deaths have been in Honda vehicles, with four in the United States.

Takata has repeatedly argued there is no scientific basis to expand the recall nationally.

Automakers have also expanded recalls for additional passenger air bags in recent weeks after Takata expanded the number of high-humidity states where it believes the air bags are subject to possible failures.

dshepardson@detroitnews.com