Safety

Honda president steps down amid airbag defect scandal

This undated photo provided by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety shows a crash test of a 2002 Honda CR-V, one of the models subject to a recall to repair faulty air bags.  The federal government is demanding that the auto industry recall millions of additional cars equipped with faulty air bags that can injure  and even kill  a driver. (AP Photo/Insurance Institute for Highway Safety)

This undated photo provided by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety shows a crash test of a 2002 Honda CR-V, one of the models subject to a recall to repair faulty air bags. The federal government is demanding that the auto industry recall millions of additional cars equipped with faulty air bags that can injure and even kill a driver. (AP Photo/Insurance Institute for Highway Safety)

Honda Motor Co., the Japanese automaker at the center of an airbag defect scandal, said Monday its president Takanobu Ito will step aside and be replaced by another Honda executive.

The decision follows massive recalls by Honda of vehicles equipped with airbags made by Japan's Takata Corp. that were found to have inflators that can explode, expelling shards of metal and plastic. At least five deaths and dozens of injuries have been linked to the problem worldwide.

Takata airbags are used by many automakers but Honda was the worst affected.

Honda said in a statement Monday that another Honda executive, Takahiro Hachigo, will succeed Ito, who will remain on the board as an adviser. The announcement did not mention the problems with the airbags and came amid a slew of other managerial changes.

Hachigo handled development of the U.S.-built Odyssey minivan and has guided the automaker's businesses in the U.S., Europe and China during his 33-year career with Honda, the company said.

Ito joined Honda in 1978 as a chassis design engineer and has been president and CEO since 2009. The company lauded him for helping to expand its global manufacturing in emerging markets such as Mexico, Brazil, China and Indonesia.