• Two companies are looking at ways to ensure stable supply
  • U.S. recalls 5 million more inflators as 10th death reported

Daicel Corp. said it’s in talks with rival airbag maker Takata Corp., the company at the center of millions of vehicle recalls, to supply inflators for the safety equipment.

The two Japanese manufacturers are considering “ways to ensure stable supply” of the parts, though no decision has been made on whether they will invest in a production joint venture, Daicel spokesman Masahiko Hirokawa said Saturday. The proposed tie-up was earlier reported by the Nikkei newspaper.

The talks comes as the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration added 5 million more air bag inflators to the largest-ever U.S. automotive recall, which previously covered 23 million devices in 19 million vehicles. The driver of a 2006 Ford Motor Co. Ranger pickup who died in December may be the 10th fatality linked with Takata air bags, which may explode with too much force and shoot metal pieces at front-row passengers.

Takata’s Tokyo-based spokespersons couldn’t be reached for comment by phone and e-mail outside of business hours. Takata has said it’s continuing to conduct tests, ramp up replacement kit production, and trying to raise consumer awareness of recalled vehicles.

In November, Takata was fined a record $200 million over its missteps in handling the airbag crisis. NHTSA found that the company had been slow to report the defect and hid critical information from regulators and its automaker partners. Takata agreed to appoint an independent monitor to oversee its recalls and operate under the terms of a five-year consent decree.

The Nikkei also reported that Takata will separately seek aid from carmakers as recall costs mount, including getting them to cover some costs of recalls and easing pressure for discounts on parts.

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