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Japanese company Takata, which manufactures 20 per cent of the car industry’s airbags, has finally admitted to a US hearing overnight that the number of faulty airbags is much greater than it originally forecast.
The number of affected vehicles has now climbed to a staggering 53 million worldwide, including 34 million in the US alone.
So far, at least 556,000 cars have been recalled in Australia to have their Takata airbags replaced, but that figure is set to rise following the developments in the US which has dramatically expanded the number of affected vehicles.
At least six overseas deaths have so far been linked to the faulty airbags which can spray metal shards if the airbag detonator has been exposed to moisture due to a fault in the manufacturing process.
Until now Takata had claimed there was no fault, or that the problems had been fixed in its manufacturing process.
But as recently as November 2014, Takata was accused of destroying evidence of internal testing of potentially faulty airbags.
The recall is so massive not all car companies have been able to calculate which models are affected
The Takata turnaround comes as authorities in the US are now trying to remove airbags from cars in junkyards so that the potentially faulty airbags don't end up being fitted to another, roadworthy car.
Despite the horrific consequences, US and Australian authorities have so far refused to ground the potentially affected cars.
The recall is so massive not all car companies have been able to calculate which models are affected, and some have admitted the replacement airbags won't be fitted until next year, because they can't be built fast enough.
"Replacement parts are presently being prepared and, due to the number of vehicles impacted globally, it is anticipated that sufficient parts will be available to commence recall repairs by early next year," said Toyota's media statement.
Toyota, the world's largest car maker, last week recalled a further 5 million cars globally, including 181,000 in Australia, bringing the number of locally-affected Takata airbag-equipped Toyotas to 207,000.
Honda Australia has also expanded its recall to include 109,000 cars with potentially faulty passenger airbags and 22,000 cars with potentially faulty driver airbags. It brings the total number of Hondas recalled in Australia with Takata airbags to 188,000.
Honda Australia says it has not been advised from Japan if the latest Takata developments will lead to a further increase in the number of vehicles recalled.
Nissan Australia has now recalled a total of 156,000 cars equipped with Takata airbags, and also says it is yet to receive information on further recalls.
US company Chrysler has recalled 4500 examples of its 300C sedan made in 2006 and 2007.
The car industry will struggle to contact owners of the affected vehicles because most cars are no longer with the original buyers
The Takata airbag recalls are due to the potential that, depending on the vehicle, either the driver's or passenger's airbag inflators may be susceptible to moisture intrusion over time.
"If this happens, this could potentially make the inflator assembly prone to rupture during an accident, increasing the risk of injury to the occupant," said the Toyota media statement.
To date, all of the car brands involved in the international recalls so there have been no incidents, injuries or deaths reported in Australia.
However, adding to the recall drama, the car industry will struggle to contact owners of the affected vehicles because most cars are no longer with the original buyers, given that they are typically made between 2003 and 2007 and now on the used-car market.
Motorists concerned they may be driving an affected car have been advised to search the recalls.gov.au website and check if their particular make and model is being recalled.
However, since this article was published the recalls.gov.au website has been overwhelmed by web traffic and numerous users have reported that the site was unable to be opened.
The full list of cars we know are affected are listed below.
Even though it is part of General Motors, Holden says its Australian-delivered vehicles are not affected.
Ford says it is yet to be notified of any recall action following the new, broader scope of the overseas Takata recall campaign.
News Corp Australia was waiting on feedback from Mazda, BMW and Mercedes-Benz as this article was published, to find out how many -- if any -- cars are affected locally.
Chrysler 300C sedan 2006 to 2007
Honda Jazz 2004 to 2009
Honda Accord Euro 2004 to 2007
Honda CR-V 2002 to 2008
Honda Civic 2004 to 2005
Nissan N16 Pulsar
Nissan D22 Navara
Nissan Y61 Patrol
Nissan T30 X-TRAIL
Nissan A33 Maxima
Toyota Echo 2003 to 2005
Toyota RAV4 2003 to 2005
Toyota Corolla 2003 to 2007
Toyota Yaris 2005 to 2007
Toyota Avensis 2003 to 2007