Ford to petition to avoid U.S. recall of 2.5 million vehicles


WASHINGTON — Ford Motor Co. will petition to avoid a U.S. recall of about 2.5 million vehicles with Takata airbag inflators that the Japanese auto supplier declared defective last week, U.S. regulators and the automaker said Friday.

Separately, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said Nissan Motor Co. had agreed to recall 515,394 2007-2011 Versa cars after Takata declared 2.7 million vehicles to have potentially defective inflators.

Ford spokesman John Cangany said the automaker will file a petition requesting “to continue testing and analyzing our inflators.” NHTSA said the petition will seek an exemption from the recall because Ford believes the issue is inconsequential.

Ford said the issue covers 2.5 million vehicles, including the 2007-11 Ranger, 2006-12 Fusion and Lincoln MKZ, 2006-2011 Mercury Milan and 2007-10 Ford Edge and Lincoln MKX. Ford previously said it covered about 2.2 million vehicles.

Last week, NHTSA said that new testing prompted Takata to declare inflators defective in Ford, Nissan and Mazda vehicles in some driver-side airbags built from 2012 through 2015.

NHTSA said in a statement Friday that “testing data shows that the propellant in this inflator is degrading and on the path towards potential ruptures in the future. There are no reported ruptures in the real-world or in testing.”

Takata airbag inflators are already linked to 17 deaths and more than 180 injuries worldwide, and the recalls will eventually cover about 125 million inflators.

Nissan said last week it would recall 627,000 Versa cars from 2007-2012 model years, including 515,000 in the United States “out of an abundance of caution.”

Nissan said testing of 895 inflators showed no ruptures, while one “exhibited an elevated internal pressure.” Takata said the inflators potentially could rupture “after several years of exposure to high absolute humidity.”

Mazda said last week the issue impacts just 6,000 B-series trucks. The company also plans to file a petition to avoid a recall, NHTSA said.

The automakers have 30 days to submit the petition and then NHTSA will take public comment before making a decision.

More than 65 percent of 46.2 million previously recalled Takata airbag inflators in the United States have not been repaired. The issue is the largest-ever auto-safety recall, covering 17 automakers.

Takata filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in June.

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