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Honda says to expand U.S. regional air bag recall to include California

By Yoko Kubota

TOKYO (Reuters) - Honda Motor Co is expanding to the state of California a U.S. regional recall of vehicles over potentially explosive air bags made by Takata Corp, the automaker said on Friday, after a complaint that said a driver was injured in an accident in the state.

Honda's move takes the regional recall involving the potentially faulty airbags beyond hot and humid southern states and into the nation's most populous state and a major market for automakers.

Honda decided to expand the recall after it was told on June 25 about an accident involving a 2005 model Accord that had taken place in California in May, a spokeswoman said.

According to a complaint filed to U.S. safety regulator the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the air bag in the car shot out "hot metal and plastic shrapnel" after a collision that happened at low speed, leaving the driver with "severe burns, bruises and abrasions on her arms and legs".

"While this case does not match the areas that NHTSA has determined, Honda is adding California into the areas in which it is conducting a regional recall in order to investigate the cause quickly," the Honda spokeswoman said.

It was not immediately clear how many vehicles would be recalled in California. In the regional recall, Honda is pulling back certain vehicles including model years 2001-2007 Accord, 2001-2005 Civic and 2002-2006 CR-V.

A Takata spokeswoman was not able to comment immediately on the matter.

In June, Honda and six other automakers said they were recalling vehicles in some high humidity regions at the request of the NHTSA to see if faulty Takata air bag inflators had been installed in their vehicles.

The car makers are recalling certain vehicles in Puerto Rico, Florida, Hawaii and the Virgin Islands, regions determined by NHTSA. Honda is also recalling vehicles in Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina and Texas.

Safety experts have said that the six other automakers could expand their regional recalls to include the additional areas covered by Honda. The NHTSA probe is still underway.

Over the past five years, automakers have recalled about 10.6 million vehicles globally with air bags supplied by Takata, the world's second-biggest automotive safety parts maker, excluding the U.S. regional recalls.

Out of that, Honda has recalled more than 6 million. At least two deaths are alleged to have been caused by faulty air bags, both of which were on Honda Accord vehicles.

(Reporting by Yoko Kubota; Editing by Miral Fahmy)

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