Honda engineer debunks own claim about cause of Takata airbag failures

DETROIT — Honda Motor Co. on Friday released a 2013 email in which one of its engineers suggested that he knew some hidden truth about “the root cause” of Takata Corp. airbag failures, but the engineer later said he was mistaken.

The engineer’s email was disclosed in a statement from Honda as part of its defense in a class action suit in Florida, where plaintiffs are seeking compensation for the lost value of vehicles due to defects in Takata airbag inflators.

The inflators can explode with excessive force, launching metal shrapnel at passengers in cars and trucks.

The inflators prompted the automotive industry’s largest-ever safety recall and have been linked to at least 16 deaths worldwide. Nine of the 11 U.S. deaths have been reported in 2001-03 model Honda and Acura vehicles

The engineer’s July 18, 2013 email, originally written in Japanese and translated by Honda, is part of an exchange with a colleague at the automaker.

“I am a witness in the dark who knows the truth about Takata’s inflator recall,” the engineer, whose name is blacked out in Honda’s statement, wrote in his email.

“If I say something to NHTSA, it will cause a complete reversal in the auto industry which adopted Takata inflators,” added the engineer, who told his colleague he had been taken off airbag-related work by Honda because of his supposed inside knowledge.

NHTSA is an acronym for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

In a sworn affidavit filed with a federal court and dated June 1, 2017, the engineer acknowledged he had been mistaken, however.

When he wrote email to his colleague, he was referring to an Oct. 16, 1999, event in which a prototype Takata airbag inflator ruptured, the engineer stated.

Based on later findings by NHTSA, “I now understand that I was incorrect and the root cause of the field events is not related to the root cause of the October 1999 rupture,” he said.

Honda did not name the engineer. But it said he was still employed by the company and that while it had no objection to the engineer testifying in the Florida case he had declined to do so.

Honda also reiterated its position that it did not conceal knowledge of Takata defects, but instead was itself a victim of deception by Takata officials.

Peter Prieto, a lawyer for consumer plaintiffs in the Takata airbag litigation, said in a statement that Honda had refused to present the engineer for a deposition.

The engineer’s email was “just one of the many we have uncovered establishing that Honda was well aware of the public safety risks posed by Takata’s airbags,” Prieto said.

Takata bankruptcy would cloud auto industry’s biggest recall

The expected bankruptcy of troubled airbag maker Takata Corp. isn’t just a crisis for its employees and suppliers. It also throws a wild card into one of the biggest and most complicated recalls in automotive history.

The Japan-based auto supplier has pledged to recall and replace tens of millions of defective airbag inflators used by 19 automakers around the world, from Tesla Inc. to Toyota Motor Corp. A filing to restructure in U.S. bankruptcy court, which could come as early as Monday according to people familiar with the matter, doesn’t relieve a manufacturer of recall responsibilities.

However, should its financial assets be exhausted before all the work is done, carmakers may have to cover the difference.

U.S. bankruptcy laws permit a would-be buyer to acquire Takata’s desirable assets, but not necessarily assume unwanted liabilities — including recall obligations, according to Robert Rasmussen, a University of Southern California law professor specializing in corporate reorganizations.

Funds raised by an asset sale would go toward funding Takata’s production of replacement parts, Rasmussen said. U.S. law treats a manufacturer’s recall obligations in bankruptcy as a claim of the U.S. government and they receive priority “to ensure that consumers are adequately protected from any safety defect” in a manufacturer’s products, according to statute.

“The big risk,” Rasmussen said, “is how much are the assets worth versus what’s the cost to do the replacements.”

Scott Upham, president of Valient Market Research, estimates that automakers and suppliers globally face $5 billion in future costs tied to the recalls, about $2 billion of which can be tied to Takata. He estimates a Takata asset sale will generate about $1.5 billion to $2 billion.

“There’s not enough money,” Upham said. Automakers may have to cover any shortfall, he said.

The car companies have already shifted business away from Takata and toward rivals for about 70 percent of the parts to repair the millions of vehicles recalled for the company’s defective airbag inflators, which can explode with too much force and spray drivers and passengers with metal and plastic shards. That should assure enough new inflators for the estimated 100 million defective ones forecast to be replaced worldwide.

Only 38 percent of the 43 million airbag inflators under recall in the U.S. had been repaired as of May 26, according to data on the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s website. In Japan, 73 percent of the close to 19 million airbags under recall have been repaired, a spokesman at the country’s transport ministry said this month.

At least 17 deaths have been linked to the devices worldwide. Mounting liabilities associated with the faulty airbags have forced Takata to seek a buyer that would see it through a costly restructuring process. A Takata steering committee has recommended Key Safety Systems Inc. — the U.S. airbag maker owned by China’s Ningbo Joyson Electronic Corp. — as the preferred bidder, and bankruptcy filings would bring the Japanese company a step closer to a sale.

The challenges for the acquirer are manifold.

Takata posted its third-straight annual loss even without including the full costs of repairing millions of airbags, which automakers are now paying for. It faces a talent exodus and auto industry distrust.

“It would be hard for Key Safety Systems to put in huge amounts of money if there’s no guarantee against unexpected liabilities, after any deal,” said Mitsuhiro Harada, a researcher at Tokyo Shoko Research. “Takata is making money in non-airbag operations, so if they can drastically cut recall-related debt through bankruptcy, they can surely revive soon.”

Replacement suppliers

Automakers have avoided supply disruptions by sourcing replacement parts from Takata competitors Autoliv Inc., ZF-TRW and Daicel Corp. Autoliv, for example, has already provided 15 million replacement inflators and has orders for another 15 million into 2019, company spokesman Thomas Jonsson said.

“We are working with suppliers to ensure a steady supply of replacement inflators for our customers,” said Kelly Stefanich, a Toyota spokeswoman in Princeton, Ind. “We don’t anticipate any supply disruptions at this time.” Honda CEO Takahiro Hachigo said at a June 16 media briefing that the automaker hasn’t heard any specifics about the Takata bankruptcy plan.

The Japanese government has said it’s focused on completing the recall process and ensuring there’s no disruption of the supply chain.

In the U.S., NHTSA has been coordinating the pace of recalls and the flow of parts under a legally-binding 2015 agreement with Takata and 19 companies. That pact, NHTSA said, “is designed to deal with future contingencies, including the possibility of additional recalls, new information about the cause of the ruptures, or interruptions in the supply of replacement inflators.”

“The automakers, the government, Key Safety Systems and Takata will come to an agreement to keep supplies flowing,” Upham said. “The No. 1 priority is the safety of the driving public, and I think everybody realizes that.”

Honda impact

Honda first started recalling Accord and Civic models in 2008 due to the flaw that may end up being Takata’s undoing. The supplier’s inflators use ammonium nitrate propellant that can be rendered unstable after long-term exposure to heat and humidity. That same year, Takata began adding a drying agent to its propellant formula in an attempt to fix the problem. It has until the end of 2019 to prove to U.S. regulators that those airbags are safe.

Honda now uses no Takata-sourced inflators for recall repairs in the U.S., and none of the company’s new vehicles in mass production worldwide use Takata inflators with ammonium nitrate propellant, said Chris Martin, a Honda spokesman in the U.S..

Opting for bankruptcy protection in Japan and the U.S., as opposed to a court-led restructuring, should ensure there’s “minimum negative impact to the airbag supply chain for automakers,” said Takeshi Miyao, an analyst at Tokyo-based market researcher Carnorama. He predicts the procedure would take two months in a best-case scenario, but would more likely need half a year.

GM settles with 203 plaintiffs over ignition switches

NEW YORK — General Motors agreed to settle federal lawsuits by as many as 203 plaintiffs over defective ignition switches in its vehicles, a Friday court filing shows.

Settlement terms are confidential, but the accord could also resolve hundreds of state court claims, as well, lawyers for the automaker said in the filing in Manhattan federal court.

Lawyers for the settling plaintiffs could not immediately be reached for comment. A GM spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

GM has been defending against hundreds of lawsuits over faulty ignition switches that could cause engines to stall and prevent airbags from deploying in crashes.

The defect has been linked to 124 deaths and 275 injuries, and prompted a recall that began in February 2014.

GM has paid about $2.5 billion in penalties and settlements related to the defect.

In April, the U.S. Supreme Court let stand a lower court ruling that blocked GM’s effort to scuttle many private lawsuits.

The company had argued that its 2009 bankruptcy reorganization excused it from addressing earlier defects.

GM’s lawyers said they are working with the plaintiffs’ lawyers to complete documentation within the next month for the settlement, whose terms “will take some time” to implement.

Ford demonstrates self-driving Fusion at Mcity

PHOTO GALLERY: Ford Fusion self-driving demonstration








PHOTO GALLERY >>

ANN ARBOR, Mich. — In controlled “geofenced” areas, today’s technology already enables cars to drive themselves automatically, safely and very smoothly. The challenge remains moving from tests on closed courses to the real world.

At the University of Michigan’s Mcity proving grounds for autonomous cars, Ford engineers on Wednesday rolled out a fleet of self-driving Fusions and let reporters ride in the backseat. The cars successfully piloted themselves around the faux city landscape, top speed around 25 mph. The cars correctly read stop lights, negotiated turns, identified pedestrians — real ones, not dummies — and cyclists in the road, and interacted without drama. More than that, the cars drove themselves smoothly.

But there is still a long road ahead before Ford’s, or anyone else’s self-driving cars, are ready to pilot themselves on public streets. For one thing, high-definition mapping of the nation’s roads, which can overcome some of the country’s infrastructure issues, is not nearly complete enough.

James McBride, a Ford senior leader for autonomous vehicles, said high-definition mapping can help a vehicle “see” the environment, such as around corners, where cameras and lidar can’t.

Ford is aiming to have Level 4 autonomous vehicles commercially available by 2021. The vehicle would drive itself with no human interaction in a pre-mapped area, such as a section of a city or say, the parking lot of Walt Disney World in Orlando.

Accuride agrees to acquire German wheel supplier

Automotive wheel and related parts supplier Accuride Corp. agreed to acquire competitor Mefro Wheels GmbH in its second acquisition this quarter.

The addition of the German steel-wheel maker gives Accuride access to both commercial and passenger vehicle markets, Accuride CEO Rick Dauch said in an email to Automotive News.

Mefro supplies “nearly all of the leading brands” of automakers, said Accuride spokesman Timothy Weir.

After years of losses and heavy debt loads, Accuride was acquired and recapitalized by a private equity firm in November. It is now seeking to grow globally.

The Mefro acquisition “will enable us to better serve the needs of our global customers across a broad range of on- and off-highway applications,” said Dauch, who took the reins of Accuride in 2011 after the company emerged from bankruptcy. Dauch previously served as vice president of worldwide manufacturing for American Axle and Manufacturing Inc., where his late father, Richard E. Dauch, was co-founder and longtime CEO.

In its 2015 filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Accuride refers to Mefro Wheels as a primary competitor in the wheel market.

“Combining our complementary product offerings, operations and customer relationships will enable us to serve as a dependable source of high-quality wheels and wheel-end components for our global customers across a broad range of on-road and off-road applications,” Dauch told Automotive News in the email.

Privately owned Mefro Wheels employs about 3,000 workers at three plants in Germany, two in Russia and one each in France, Turkey and China. The acquisition would join Mefro’s workers with Accuride’s 2,000 and spread the combined 5,000 employees over 15 plants in North America, Europe, Russia and the Asian-Pacific region.

Accuride, of Evansville, Ind.,already has plants in the U.S., Canada, Mexico and Italy.

Financial terms of the pending deal were not disclosed, but it will require antitrust approvals in several European jurisdictions, “which makes it difficult to estimate timing,” Weir said. The deal is not subject to regulatory approval in the U.S.

History

Accuride was formed in 1986 to acquire the wheel and wheel-end division of Firestone Tire & Rubber Co.

The company grew through acquisitions, but like many parts suppliers took a beating from slumping global demand during the Great Recession in 2008 and 2009. In 2009, the company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy and emerged in 2010 with a new capital structure. Accuride went public the following year when Dauch was appointed as CEO.

New York City-based private equity firm Crestview Partners acquired Accuride in 2016 in a take-private deal valued at $124.5 million. Crestview declined to comment on the Mefro Wheels acquisition agreement.

The pending deal with Mefro would be the second acquisition under Crestview’s ownership, following a deal announced in April with wheel and parts supplier KIC, of Vancouver, Wash., which was finalized last month. Financial terms of the KIC acquisition weren’t disclosed.

Mercedes orders up more light trucks for U.S.

Mercedes-Benz plans to boost U.S. allocation of SUVs and crossovers in the second half of the year. Dealers are applauding the move.

“We’ve had constraints on GLC, and they’re going to produce a lot more GLCs in the second half of the year,” said Todd Bondy, operating partner at Mercedes-Benz of Oklahoma City. “That was really great to hear.”

Mercedes-Benz USA leaders told dealers about the increase at a dealer meeting this month in Miami. The boost will be across SUV and crossover lines, with the biggest jump for the GLC compact crossover, said Ken Schnitzer, chairman of the Mercedes-Benz Dealer Board and owner of four Mercedes dealerships in Texas.

“For the first six months of the year, we’ve been significantly short of the right inventory in SUVs, and many dealers have been almost out of GLCs and GLAs,” Schnitzer said.

Mercedes officials declined to comment on the added allocation. But the increase is part of a pattern at Mercedes and other brands as U.S. consumers shift to SUVs and crossovers. The latest boost follows a bump in SUV allocation announced to Mercedes dealers in January and increases in 2016.

Despite those increases, Mercedes-Benz USA CEO Dietmar Exler said in April that demand continued to be unmet by supply and that the biggest growth for SUVs and crossovers was predicted for the compact segment in which the GLC and GLA compete.

“We are working and trying to identify with the colleagues in Germany whatever we can do to get more production,” Exler said at that time.

The brand’s mix of crossovers and SUVs in the U.S. has slipped slightly from last year.

For all of 2016, crossovers and SUVs made up 46.6 percent of the Mercedes luxury mix (excluding commercial vans), up from 40.2 percent in 2015.

For the first five months of 2017, crossovers and SUVs account for 45.8 percent of the brand’s luxury mix, according to the Automotive News Data Center. Through May, the brand’s SUV and crossover sales were down 3.8 percent.

“When the year ends, we will have the opportunity to sell more SUVs than in 2016.”
Ken Schnitzer

Mercedes-Benz Dealer Board

Mercedes is trying to move toward a 50-50 car-truck mix, Schnitzer said, and the latest allocation increase should help get it closer. The increased inventory will begin to land this month and be in full swing in July, he said, but it will take several months to catch up to the demand.

“When the year ends, we will have the opportunity to sell more SUVs than in 2016,” Schnitzer said.

That will help Mercedes toward another goal of increasing its overall luxury sales in 2017. Through May, the brand’s luxury sales were down 1 percent.

“Without the [additional SUVs], I’m not sure they can hit their targets,” Schnitzer said. “And with these vehicles I think they will hit their targets.”

GM expands use of turbocharged engines to boost fuel economy

General turbos
GM nameplates with 2017 models that offer at least 1 of the automaker’s 9 turbocharged engines in the U.S., including twin-turbos and diesels

Buick: Cascada, Encore, Envision, Regal

Cadillac: ATS, CT6, CTS, XTS

Chevrolet: Camaro, Colorado, Cruze, Malibu, Silverado HD, Sonic, Trax

GMC: Canyon, Sierra HD

DETROIT — General Motors has quietly and rapidly boosted its use of turbocharged engines as the industry seeks to improve fuel economy without sacrificing performance.

GM has more than doubled U.S. sales of vehicles with turbocharged engines from about 288,000 in 2011, or less than 12 percent of U.S. sales, to 712,000 in 2016, or 23 percent. That increase reflects significantly expanded penetration of turbos in GM’s car models, to 49 percent of car sales in 2016, up from just 5 percent in 2010.

The company’s turbo mix is expected to keep growing with the summer release of the 2018 GMC Terrain and ongoing production of the 2018 Chevrolet Equinox, the most recent vehicles to offer turbos exclusively.

“Turbocharging is really an important technology,” Dan Nicholson, GM vice president of global propulsion systems, told Automotive News. “It’s enabling smaller, really smaller engines, without sacrificing peak power or peak torque.”

Turbochargers use exhaust gases to power a turbine like fan, which drives a pump that blasts a denser mixture of air into the engine. This increases the engine’s horsepower output. All diesel engines feature turbochargers.

The technology can make a four-cylinder engine produce comparable performance figures to a larger six-cylinder engine, if not better. Skeptics have criticized turbochargers’ additional cost and delayed acceleration, known as “turbo lag” — both issues automakers have worked to mitigate.

Roughly half of GM’s 2018 vehicle lineup is expected to offer at least one turbo option, including a 2.0-liter, four-cylinder engine available in the Chevrolet Traverse and standard on the Buick Regal and Regal TourX.

GM has white space to keep expanding its turbo lineup. It doesn’t yet offer any turbo engines for its largest gasoline-powered GMC and Chevrolet SUVs or full-size pickups — markets some competitors have capitalized on.

Nicholson declined to comment on plans to add turbo engines to those vehicle segments, saying GM will “continue to look at customer acceptance” and apply turbos “segment by segment” rather than across the board.

Ford has had surprising success offering its downsized EcoBoost lineup of turbocharged engines in most of its SUVs and pickups, including its best-selling F-series pickups. In June 2016, Ford said it had sold 1 million EcoBoost F-150s in the U.S. since 2011. Ford declined to provide overall EcoBoost sales for 2016.

“Ford has just done a really good job of marketing EcoBoost as a brand across a group of loyal customers who otherwise would not have considered downsizing an engine with a turbocharger,” said Paul Lacy, IHS Markit senior manager of Americas powertrain and compliance forecasting.

“Ford has just done a really good job of marketing EcoBoost as a brand across a group of loyal customers who otherwise would not have considered downsizing an engine with a turbocharger.”
Paul Lacy

IHS Markit

Honda and Toyota were slow to embrace turbos, in part because they already were industry leaders in fuel economy. But as that lead gets harder to maintain, Honda has been rolling out turbos in its core products, starting with the Civic, CR-V and next-generation Accord.

IHS forecasts that turbocharged engines will represent 55 percent of production for North America by 2024, up from an expected 33 percent this year.

An asterisk on that forecast, according to Lacy, is the midterm review of the federal corporate average fuel economy regulations that are targeted at achieving a 54.5 mpg fleetwide average by the 2025 model year. He said that depending on what occurs with the review — which was reopened by the Trump administration — automakers could re-evaluate their fuel economy strategies.

Nicholson said whatever happens with the review, GM won’t waver from its efforts to increase fuel economy.

“We’re never going backwards,” he said. “It’s only a matter of how fast we can move forward in improving fuel economy.”

General turbos
GM nameplates with 2017 models that offer at least 1 of the automaker’s 9 turbocharged engines in the U.S., including twin-turbos and diesels

Buick: Cascada, Encore, Envision, Regal

Cadillac: ATS, CT6, CTS, XTS

Chevrolet: Camaro, Colorado, Cruze, Malibu, Silverado HD, Sonic, Trax

GMC: Canyon, Sierra HD

Jaguar teams up with Andy Murray to present new XF Sportbrake wagon

Jaguar has teamed up with fellow Brit and world No. 1 tennis player Andy Murray to present its all new XF Sportbrake.

The automaker and Murray agreed to a sponsorship deal in December 2015 and — with Murray’s continued success in the tennis world — the pair have had an active relationship.

Jaguar is in its third year as the official car partner of the Wimbledon championships, one of the four grand slam professional tennis events. Ahead of Wimbledon, which begins July 3, Jaguar rolled out the new XF Sportbrake in an event in downtown London on a replica center court of the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, where the tournament is held.

Murray is the defending champion at Wimbledon. His victory last year was his second (he won his first 2013) and he looks to become the first male British tennis player to win three Wimbledon singles championships since Fred Perry in 1936. Jaguar aired this commercial featuring Murray ahead of the 2016 Wimbledon tournament.

Jaguar will be taking the men’s singles Wimbledon trophy and the XF Sportbrake on a United Kingdom-wide tour to inspire kids and show off the vehicle prior to the start of the 2017 tournament.

“I’ve been working with Jaguar for a while now, this car is going to be taking my Wimbledon trophy around the world on a trophy tour taking it to schools, tennis clubs and trying to engage young kids and hopefully inspire a few to pick up a racket and play,” Murray said at the event Wednesday morning. “As you start to get older, you want to leave a legacy and see more kids picking up a racket. This sport has given me so much and I would love more kids to have that opportunity.”

Jaguar called out the 2017 Wimbledon ball boys and girls to come out and remove the tarp covering the two white XF Sportbrake vehicles.

Murray was given an XF Sportbrake to drive, but apparently, Jaguar didn’t see a problem in giving him one that had a paint job covered with tennis balls, which Murray bluntly pointed out.

“The one that I have at my house is plastered with tennis balls, so I haven’t been driving it too much because that would have been a bit strange if I was driving a car that had tennis balls all over it,” Murray said at the event. “But it’s really nice and has loads of space, which is great for me and what I do for a living.”

Murray isn’t the first athlete, nor the first tennis player to unveil an all-new vehicle. Rafael Nadal unveiled the new Kia Stinger sports sedan at the 2017 Australian Open in January, just one week after the vehicle made its world premiere at the 2017 Detroit Auto Show.

Some of the other major car-athlete endorsements include Murray’s longtime rival Roger Federer, sponsored by Mercedes-Benz; New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, who struck a recent endorsement deal with Aston Martin and is even designing his own vehicle; and Cleveland Cavaliers star LeBron James, who is a global brand ambassador for Kia.

Prepare to see the Jaguar logo all over the television screen during the two-week Wimbledon tournament, but don’t expect to find Andy Murray cruising around in a tennis ball-speckled XF Sportbrake any time soon.

‘Where can I fill up?’: Toyota deploys Watson Ads to pitch Prius Prime

Toyota is using artificial intelligence to push the environmentally-friendly Prius Prime on the Weather Channel app and weather.com.

Toyota is the first automaker to deploy Watson Ads, a cognitive ad format that meshes machine learning, natural language understanding and dialogue tools to engage consumers in one-to-one discussions at scale. IBM Watson can understand user intent, learn and reason to drive conversations, says Monica Fogg, product lead for Watson Ads.

Toyota launched the ads today.

The company is dabbling in the artificial intelligence space at a time when consumers are growing more comfortable using personal assistants such as Apple’s Siri and Amazon Alexa.

In the auto world, Hyundai has empowered Alexa to remotely start vehicles and control locks if a person owns an Amazon Echo smart speaker. On the consumer education side, Kia uses artificial intelligence to tout its hybrid Niro crossover through a chat bot in Facebook Messenger. The “NiroBot” fields questions and links consumers to web pages to set up test drives and search inventory.

When consumers run across Toyota’s Watson Ads, they can write a question or simply ask aloud. Watson is prepared to tackle an array of inquiries including, “How far can I go on one charge?”

It’ll even go a step further for cross shoppers who ask how the Prius Prime compares to competing vehicles such as the Chevrolet Volt. Watson will then come back with a list of benefits.

“The AI serves to enhance the conversation between the consumer and the brand. Consumers are already habituated to click on an ad to learn more about a brand and we’re also habituated to chat,” Fogg said. “We all text, we use social. We have a certain level of expectation of personalization in those experiences.”

The first Watson Ads debuted last year.

Toyota’s ad agency Saatchi & Saatchi has leveraged Watson before. The agency said IBM’s personal assistant wrote thousands of ads for a recent Facebook campaign for the Mirai hydrogen vehicle.

Big audience

The Weather Company properties attract around 250 million people each month, which is a vast audience for the Prius ads to engage with.

The Watson Ads could help Toyota gather intelligence that will help the automaker shape future campaigns.

“The goal is to expand upon an advertising experience and get into an engaged one-on-one dialogue, so it doesn’t feel like it’s just an ad. It feels like it’s an experience. The brand is giving something back to consumers,” said Sarah Ripmaster, The Weather Company’s head of auto sales.

She added: “Because there is a one-to-one dialogue, the user is able to extract meaningful and actionable information from the brand. The brand can garner a ton of learning from these ad units. When a consumer is asking questions, and the dialogue is happening, all of that is data. The brand can understand what’s meaningful and impactful for the consumer and potentially change [future] brand messaging based on that kind of interaction.”

Fiat Chrysler recalling 297,000 vehicles for inadvertent airbag deployments

WASHINGTON — Fiat Chrysler Automobiles is recalling 297,000 older minivans in North America because of a wiring problem that can lead to inadvertent airbag deployments, the company said in a statement on Thursday.

The recall of 2011-2012 model year Dodge Grand Caravan minivans is linked to 13 minor injuries, the automaker said. Wiring may short circuit that can result in the driver-side airbag deploying without warning.

The recall will begin in late July and includes 209,000 vehicles in the U.S. and nearly 88,000 vehicles in Canada. Dealers will replace the wiring if needed and add protective covering.