Takata To Double Airbag Replacement Production To 900,000 Kits By September

After facing increased scrutiny by federal regulators in recent weeks regarding an investigation into the massive airbag recall and lack of new safety devices, Japanese auto parts maker Takata announced it will double production of replacement airbags in the next six months.

The Agence France-Presse reports that Takata began to ramp up production efforts in December, increasing replacement kit output from 350,000 to 450,000. By September, the company expects to produce 900,000 kits.

“Takata has dramatically increased the production of airbag replacement kits in support of automotive recalls and safety campaigns,” the company tells AFP. “Takata also is working with other suppliers to further increase the availability of replacement kits for its automotive customers.”

Takata’s move comes after automakers recalled more than 25 million vehicles in 2014 following reports that the Takata-produced airbags can spew pieces of shrapnel at passengers and drivers upon deployment.

So far, six deaths and hundreds of injuries have been linked to the defect.

Takata tells AFP that it is convening a meeting in Michigan this week to go over research related to the airbag defect. The company says preliminary testing supports the assertion that age and long-term exposure to high-heat, high-humidity climates were key factors in the accidents.

Takata has received significant scrutiny from federal regulators since the safety defect came to light.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration opened an investigation into the issue back in June. In February, the agency began fining the company $14,000 per day for failing to turn over documents and answer questions.

Last week, NHTSA upgraded its probe to an engineering analysis. The regulators said the formal step intensifies the investigation and could help determine whether the company’s failure to quickly notify the agency of possible defects violated federal law or regulations.

Additionally, the company was issued an order requiring it to preserve airbag inflators for use as evidence in the agency’s probe and any subsequent lawsuits.

The Japanese parts maker is currently the center of a number of criminal investigations and lawsuits from families of victims.

Takata to double output of replacement airbags [Agence France-Presse]