Takata air bag recall could take years to complete

Takata air bag recall could take years to complete

Takata Corp's record US recall of potentially deadly air bag inflators could take years to complete, industry experts and safety advocates said, as automakers scrambled to line up replacement parts, some not from Takata.

After doubling its recall of defective air bags to nearly 34 million vehicles, the Japanese company and competitors scrambled to ramp up production of replacement parts.

The complexity of the recall could play out over at least two years, said Kevin Pollack, vice president for Stericycle ExpertSolutions, which is helping some of the affected automakers. "There weren't 30 million extra air bag inflators sitting around."

A Takata spokesman said the company would raise output to 1 million inflators a month by September, an increase of 100,000 parts from the previous forecast and up from the current monthly level of 500,000.

Mark Rosekind, an administrator for the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), said completing the recall could take "some years."

Takata and the NHTSA, which has hired independent research group Battelle to uncover the technical cause of the problem, said the priority for the replacement parts would be older vehicles and those in higher-humidity regions.

The air bag inflators have been found to explode with too much force, spraying metal fragments inside cars and forcing automakers to recall more than 53 million vehicles worldwide since 2008. The component has been linked to six deaths, all in cars made by the supplier's top customer, Honda Motor Co.

Takata and its customers will determine who receives the replacement parts, in a process being overseen by the NHTSA.

Jack Gillis of consumer advocacy group Consumer Federation of America believes the recall could take up to five years to resolve.

Takata shares declined 10.2 per cent to 1,353 yen in Tokyo on Wednesday, a day after the company announced the largest automotive recall in US history.

The Takata spokesman said the company had so far made 3.8 million replacement kits in total.

Takata has faced pressure from US safety regulators, lawmakers and its automaker customers to increase production of the replacement parts. Several automakers have turned to other suppliers in the sector to meet demand.

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