Mazda recalls 270,000 vehicles over Takata airbags explosion risk

NEW YORK — Mazda is recalling nearly 270,000 vehicles with defective Takata airbags that can explode, spewing shrapnel and potentially killing or injuring occupants.

At least 23 deaths and more than 300 injuries worldwide are linked to Takata air bags that have exploded, unleashing metal shrapnel inside cars and trucks, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Chemicals used to inflate the airbags can deteriorate in some conditions, causing them to deploy with too much force, blowing apart a metal canister that can result in flying shrapnel.

The latest recall involves the 2003 to 2008 Mazda6, the 2006 to 2007 Mazdaspeed6 and the 2004 MPV nationwide, 269,618 vehicles in all. It also involves 2005-2006 MPV models in locations identified by the manufacturer as likely to have the climate conditions that could degrade the airbag propellants. That includes: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, West Virginia, Puerto Rico, American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands (Saipan) and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

The action comes after a prior recall of the vehicles. At first, Mazda could only replace the faulty airbags with newer versions of the same design. It's now slowing rolling out recalls involving replacements with newly designed airbags.

Over the last several years, about 50 million airbag inflators have been recalled in the U.S., making it the largest recall in the nation's history.

After filing for bankruptcy protection in the U.S. and Tokyo last summer, Takata was purchased by Chinese-owned U.S. mobility safety company Key Safety System.