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Transportation Department seeks to speed up Takata airbag replacements


Transportation Department seeks to speed up Takata airbag replacements

(Reuters) — The U.S. Department of Transportation on Friday said it will press the auto industry to accelerate the pace of replacements for defective Takata Corp. airbag inflators and signaled a likely widening of the industry's largest-ever recall.

U.S. officials now say at least 184 people have been injured in incidents involving potentially deadly Takata airbags.

On a conference call with reporters, the department said the Takata recall would eventually include about 42 million U.S. vehicles and between 64 million and 69 million airbag inflators in the United States.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), which is part of the Transportation Department, issued a list on Friday of all vehicle models from 19 automakers that are involved in the Takata recalls. New to the list is the Tesla Motors Inc. Model S, with the recall affecting certain cars from the 2012 to 2016 model years.

About 12.5 million of the 46 million airbag inflators already recalled have been replaced so far, said a NHTSA official.

Florida Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson complained about the slow pace of the recall in a statement on Friday, saying it meant that many of the faulty airbags will not be replaced until next decade.

"Drivers should not have to wait that long to get what could be a ticking time bomb out of their cars," Sen. Nelson said.

U.S. safety regulators have linked 11 deaths in the United States to Takata airbags that ruptured, sending metal shrapnel flying inside vehicles.

Worldwide, at least 16 deaths are now linked to the defective airbag inflators including five in Malaysia. Nearly 100 million Takata airbag inflators have been ordered to be withdrawn globally.