TOKYO - Honda Motor Co. will expand its investigative recall of vehicles with air bags made by Japanese supplier Takata Corp. worldwide, Honda officials said Tuesday.
The move, which will bring the number of affected Honda vehicles to about 13 million, comes as the Japanese carmaker steps up efforts to contain the controversy over Takata's air bag inflators, which have been linked to several deaths in the United States and Malaysia.
Also Tuesday, the Japanese government said it will allow Honda to implement the first investigative recall in Japan, where there is no legal requirement for carmakers to call back their products before the cause of possible problems is identified.
Honda said last week in a U.S. congressional hearing that it will expand the investigative recall in hot and humid regions in the United States to the rest of it, in response to a demand from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
The expansion in the United States will bring the total number of cars to be recalled to 5.4 million from the previous 2.8 million.
Ten Honda models, produced between 2001 and 2011, are subject to the expanded investigative recall in the United States, a crucial market for Honda, including the 2001-2007 Accord sedan, the 2001-2005 Civic sedan and the 2003-2006 Acura MDX luxury SUV.
Both Honda and Takata have been at the center of investigations of the fault, which has caused the inflators in some Takata air bags to explode too forcefully, releasing metal fragments into cars.
Honda earlier in the day notified Japan's transport ministry that it will conduct an investigative recall in the country.
"This is a vital issue," Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Minister Akihiro Ota said at a press conference. "If we wait until the problem's cause is identified, then it will take time. So we determined that it is necessary to call back all the vehicles in the so-called investigative recall," he said.
The action will affect about 135,000 vehicles in Japan. Honda has yet to specify which models are subject to the recall and when it will start replacing possibly defective parts in those vehicles.
Mazda Motor Corp. is also considering an investigative recall, Ota said.
Among other Japanese carmakers, Toyota Motor Corp. said last week it was recalling an additional 185,093 vehicles in Japan while having yet to count the figure abroad.
Cars equipped with Takata air bags have been recalled since 2008, and an expansion in the campaign was highly publicized in recent months.
The ministry estimated at one point that more than 13 million vehicles had been affected worldwide, but it was before Honda and others issued additional recalls in sequence.