Takata Boosting Air-Bag Production in Recall, NHTSA Says

Takata Corp. will increase production of replacement parts to speed repairs of recalled air bags that have a defect tied to at least four deaths, according to U.S. regulators.

Takata agreed to add two new production lines by the beginning of next year, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said today in an e-mailed statement.

“It’s unclear yet whether that would be sufficient to meet demand,” NHTSA said in the statement. “We’ve requested details in writing, so we can hold them to these commitments and evaluate how much further they may need to go.”

Ten automakers, including Honda Motor Co. and Toyota Motor Corp., have stepped up recalls involving 7.8 million U.S. cars to replace Takata air-bag inflators that if exposed to consistently high humidity can explode, sending metal shrapnel into drivers and front-seat passengers.

As part of an investigation by the auto-safety agency, Takata representatives met with NHTSA staff yesterday in Washington. Today’s statement described discussions at the meeting.

NHTSA is in talks with other manufacturers about the possibility of providing replacement air bags, according to the statement. Automakers involved in the recalls are also looking for new suppliers, it said.

Takata, the Tokyo-based parts maker, hasn’t contacted additional air-bag suppliers because it’s concerned about “quality issues,” according to the statement, which didn’t elaborate.

NHTSA issued a special order yesterday asking Takata for answers to 36 separate questions about quality-control, factory conditions, and its attempt to investigate reports of defects. Takata must reply by Dec. 1 or pay fines of up to $35 million.

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