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Japanese, Other Automakers Hit With Air Bag Recall

But the latest recall affects other major automakers, including Toyota's chief Japanese competitor. Honda Motor Co. is recalling 1.1 million vehicles worldwide, including about 680,000 in North America, 270,000 in Japan and 64,000 in Europe. Models include the Civic compact, CR-V small SUV and Odyssey minivan from the 2001 to 2003 model years.

Also, Nissan Motor Co. is recalling 480,000 vehicles worldwide, including about 265,000 in the U.S. Models include the Nissan Maxima midsize sedan, Pathfinder SUV and Sentra compact as well as the Infiniti FX crossover and QX4 SUV, all from the 2001-2003 model years. Recalled models in Japan include the Cube, X-Trail, Maxima and Teana.

Mazda Motor Co. is also part of the recall. About 45,000 Mazda RX-8 and Mazda 6 cars are affected, including 4,000 in Japan. The company said recalls will be announced in North America, Europe, China and elsewhere.

At GM, only 55,000 Pontiac Vibe hatchbacks sold in the U.S. and Canada are being recalled. The 2003 models are nearly identical to the Toyota Matrix and were made at a California plant that was jointly run with Toyota.

BMW says it's researching the problem but no numbers or models are available.

The automakers said they would inspect the air bag inflators and replace them if necessary at no cost to owners.

The air bag problem happened because of two human errors during production. A worker forgot to turn on the switch for a system weeding out defective products, and parts were improperly stored, which exposed them to humidity, according to Honda spokeswoman Akemi Ando.

The recall is Takata's largest since 1995, when nine automakers had to repair faulty front seat belts in 9 million cars sold from 1986 through 1991.

Alby Berman, spokesman for Takata in North America, acknowledged that the company's image may be hurt. But he said Takata has produced millions of reliable air bags and should have enough capital with manufacturers to withstand the publicity.

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