Airbags could have expiry date: Japan auto industry chief

An airbag logo is seen on a Honda Motor Co's all-new hybrid sedan "Grace", which installed the airbag made by Takata Corp, during its unveiling event in Tokyo on Dec 1, 2014. Japanese carmakers are mulling the idea of introducing expiration date
An airbag logo is seen on a Honda Motor Co's all-new hybrid sedan "Grace", which installed the airbag made by Takata Corp, during its unveiling event in Tokyo on Dec 1, 2014. Japanese carmakers are mulling the idea of introducing expiration dates for airbags, the head of the country's auto industrial body said Thursday, after millions of cars around the world were recalled. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

TOKYO (AFP) - Japanese carmakers are mulling the idea of introducing expiration dates for airbags, the head of the country's auto industrial body said Thursday, after millions of cars around the world were recalled.

"I think the debate may as well occur eventually on whether (airbags) should be replaced after several years," said Fumihiko Ike, chairman of Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association, at a press conference.

"We have already started the talks unofficially," said Ike, who is also the chairman of Honda Motor.

Millions of vehicles produced by some of the world's biggest automakers, including Honda, Toyota and General Motors, have already been recalled due to the risk their airbags could deploy with excessive explosive power, spraying potentially-fatal shrapnel.

Amid worries that maker Takata still does not know the root cause of the problem, the finger of suspicion is pointing at a gradual deterioration, rather than a manufacturing fault.

At least five driver deaths in the US and Malaysia have been reportedly linked to the faulty airbags, with at least one victim's death initially investigated as a murder due to the grisly injuries.

Honda is Takata's biggest customer and also a shareholder. It held 1.2 percent of Takata's outstanding stock as of September 30.