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Toyota Airbag Cuts Create Opening for Overseas Suppliers

Toyota Motor Corp. has decided it no longer needs 50 kinds of airbags to protect drivers’ knees. Ten, the company says, ought to suffice.

In one of President Akio Toyoda’s biggest initiatives since taking over in 2009, the carmaker is winnowing the number of parts it uses and increasing common components across models. The plan will cut both the time and cost for creating new models by as much as 30 percent, according to estimates from Toyota. The automaker had about $9.6 billion in auto research and development expenses in fiscal year 2012, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.