Source: Automotive News
March 7, 2015 – The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is fed up with Takata and is considering unprecedented steps to speed up replacement parts for potentially deadly air bags found in millions of cars.
In a March 3 letter, NHTSA chief Mark Rosekind said to Senator Bill Nelson that safety regulators have the authority to increase supply of replacement parts by forcing more manufacturers to make them, according to Reuters.
“With such a large number of affected vehicles, production of replacement air bags must be increased but without compromising safety,” Rosekind told Florida Democrat Nelson in the letter.
If the NHTSA uses that right under the National Traffic and Motor Safety Act it would be the first time it’s done so since being granted the same authority back in 2000.
Back in 2000, Congress amended the Safety Act to grant the U.S. transportation secretary authority to force companies to accelerate remedies if the recall program isn’t completed within a reasonable timeframe and poses a risk of death or injury.
NHTSA believes that more than 17 million vehicles were made with Takata air bag inflators that have been exploding and firing metal shards into the passenger compartments. Takata’s devices have been linked to six deaths so far and dozens of injures.
NHTSA believes that the air bags have been replaced in fewer than 2 million vehicles, or under 12 percent of the vehicles recalled, according to Reuters.
Rosekind took over NHTSA back in December after the safety administration was criticized for not responding quick enough to Takata defects and other deadly issues involving General Motors ignition switches.
NHTSA has told owners of vehicles from a number of automakers, like Honda, Toyota and Ford, to replace their air bags as soon as possible.
Takata announced on Monday that it plans to double its capacity in order to make replacement air bag inflators during the next six months and it continues testing parts that could possibly explode with too much force.
The Japanese supplier said it wants to produce around 900,000 replacements kits per month by this September, which is up from the 450,000 Takata makes now.