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Continental says 5 million vehicles may have defective air bags

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(Reuters) — Continental Automotive Systems said Thursday it supplied potentially defective airbag control units to 5 million vehicles used in Honda, Fiat Chrysler, Mercedes-Benz and other vehicles built over a five-year period, widening the auto industry's airbag safety crisis.

Honda Motor Co. said late Wednesday it is recalling 341,000 Accord cars from model years 2008-2010 to replace control units linked to failures in Continental systems. At least two injuries are attributed to the defect.

Honda said it has received 1,575 warranty claims, 83 field reports and 2 confirmed injuries related to the defect. It also said there have been 74 injury allegations related to airbags that did not deploy but those aren't confirmed.

On Thursday, Fiat Chrysler said it is recalling 112,000 U.S. vehicles for the same issue, including the 2009 Dodge Journey, 2008-2009 Dodge Grand Caravan and Chrysler Town and Country and 2009 Volkswagen Routan that it had assembled for the German automaker.

Fiat Chrysler has reports of as many as 25 inadvertent air bag deployments.

Continental Automotive, a unit of Germany-based Continental AG told the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration that the electronic systems built from 2006 through 2010 and used in 5 million vehicles may fail and air bags may not deploy in the event of a crash or may inadvertently deploy without warning.

This is the latest large-scale U.S. recall related to air bag problems. To date, 14 automakers have recalled about 25 million vehicles for air bag inflators made by Takata Corp. that could rupture, emitting potentially deadly metal fragments.

The latest Continental recall developed over years, according to documents filed with U.S. regulators.

In documents posted Thursday with U.S. regulators, Continental said it received a control unit from Daimler in January 2008 after a vehicle owner complained the airbag warning light had illuminated. An investigation found a problem with the control unit that led to a design change in a semiconductor in 2008.

Continental said it built 3 million units from 2006 until the design change and 2 million after it that are covered by the recall. Continental said it did not receive any complaints after another change was made at the end of 2010 and completed in 2011.

The NHTSA opened an investigation in August 2015 after a complaint of a crash in a 2008 Accord in which the air bags did not deploy.

In October, Daimler AG's Mercedes-Benz USA unit recalled 126,000 C-Class sedans from model years 2008 and 2009 and certain 2010 Mercedes Benz GLK-Class vehicles to address the issue.