Takata Forms Panel To Analyze Explosive Air Bags

Dec 02, 2014 03:20 PM EST | Jordan Ecarma

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Auto parts supplier Takata is forming a panel to examine its manufacturing processes and plans to issue a public report in the near future.

The Tokyo-based company will be discussing ways to make safer air bag inflators after recalling millions of vehicles equipped with air bags that could explode in the event of a crash; however, Takata still hasn't responded clearly to pressure from U.S. regulators, the Associated Press reported.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has demanded that the air bag-related recalls be expanded to the entire country instead of being limited to regional campaigns. Since Takata received a Dec. 3 deadline, that gives the supplier until midnight to respond to the NHTSA's demand. If Takata doesn't respond, it faces legal action and federal fines.

Automakers including Toyota, Honda and Ford have also announced a plan to investigate the air bags in an effort that will supplement Takata's analysis. 

"Toyota is seeking industry-wide coordination in support of a yet-to-be-named independent engineering analysis expert to test air bag inflators," the automaker said in a statement. "Independent testing will allow the affected automakers to share test results and analyses, and better understand how best to implement recall repairs."

The faulty air bags, which seem to explode in areas with high humidity, have been reported in connection with six deaths worldwide. Ten automakers have recalled around 17 million vehicles globally for the issue.

While earlier recalls have been limited to Florida, Hawaii, Puerto Rico and several other territories, the government is urging a nationwide campaign to prevent any more fatalities.

"We will take all actions needed to advance the goal of safety for the driving public, including working to produce additional replacement units to support any further recalls that may be announced by our customers," Takata said in a statement quoted by the AP.

Honda received a similar order from the NHTSA, which has given the automaker a Dec. 15 deadline to provide internal communication about the air bags. Chrysler has been pressured as well, receiving a letter from the agency late last month that called for a faster pace on air bag recalls.

"The consequences of these inflator failures are serious," NHTSA Deputy Administrator David Friedman said in the agency's letter to Fiat Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne, as quoted by Bloomberg News. "Metal fragments are propelled towards vehicle occupants with sufficient speed to cause serious injury or death."

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