* Fraction of replacements portends years of work
* Says to produce 1 mln replacement inflators a month by
* Some automakers explore Takata’s rivals for replacement
* Takata shares fall 10 pct in Tokyo
* Worldwide recalls now at 53 million vehicles since 2008
(Writes through with multi-year replacement process)
By Ben Klayman
DETROIT, May 20 (Reuters) – Takata Corp’s record
U.S. 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
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
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 U.S. 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
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
Takata shares declined 10.2 percent to 1,353 yen in Tokyo on
Wednesday, a day after the company announced the largest
automotive recall in U.S. history.
The Takata spokesman said the company had so far made 3.8
million replacement kits in total.
Takata has faced pressure from U.S. 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.
General Motors said last December that it had
developed contingency plans to deal with a potential shortage of
replacement parts, directing Takata to share inflator
specifications with rivals Autoliv and TRW. A GM
spokesman said on Wednesday there was no update to those plans.
Autoliv said on Wednesday it was ready to boost production
capacity to meet increased demand for replacement inflators.
The Swedish company said in January it was targeting
additional production capacity of up to 25 million air bag
inflators for delivery in 2015 and 2016.
Autoliv spokesman Thomas Jonsson said Wednesday the company
is building replacement inflators for Honda and several other
unidentified automakers, but he had no time frame for when the
industry would meet the demand.
Honda spokesman Chris Martin said the company was also using
Japan’s Daicel Corp and TRW for replacement inflators.
TRW was recently acquired by Germany’s ZF
“We absolutely have back orders on inflators,” he said.
“Some people may wait a couple days, some people may wait a few
Daicel said in February it would build a second U.S. plant
for air bag inflators in early 2016, bringing forward plans
partly to meet demand for alternatives to Takata’s inflators. It
said the previous month it would boost output of replacement
inflators in Japan.
A Toyota Motor Corp spokeswoman said on Wednesday
the company is working with Takata for most replacement
inflators, but will use Daicel for some parts.
Nissan Motor Co Ltd said it would not comment on
supplier selection or potential negotiations. Ford Motor Co
has previously said it has spoken with Takata rivals about
buying replacement parts.
Not everyone may be disappointed with the expanded recall.
Consumer advocate Gillis said dealers would see a “gold mine”
with increased visits to their repair bays and a possible boost
in new car sales as a result.
(Additional reporting by David Morgan in Washington; Writing by
Christian Plumb; Editing by Matthew Lewis, Toni Reinhold)