Toyota Reportedly Set To Buy 13 Million Airbag Inflators From Takata’s Rival

Automakers have struggled in recent months to get their hands on enough new parts to replace millions of defective Takata airbags. To make matters worse, the Japanese auto parts maker at the center of the massive safety issue has re-recalled hundreds of thousands of replacement parts in recent months because the devices could still harm drivers and their passengers upon deployment. To reduce these risks, Toyota is reportedly looking to purchase millions of new airbag inflators from a rival of Takata. 

Reuters reports that the proactive move by Toyota began last month when the Japanese carmaker asked smaller parts supplier Nippon Kayaku to increase production to 13 million inflators, to be used in the company’s cars until 2020.

A source close to the matter says that Toyota is considering the switch to Nippon as a precaution in case more Takata airbag inflators are recalled.

Back in May, Takata recalled 33 million vehicles equipped with its airbags; 12 million of those belonged to Toyota.

To date, Takata airbags – which have ruptured with such force it sends pieces of shrapnel flying at passengers and drivers – have been linked to eight deaths and more than 100 injuries.

The source says that having the parts on hand would give Toyota the ability to quickly replace any potentially defective inflators in the future.

In addition to asking Nippon to increase its production, Toyota asked the company to expand its facilities to meet the new demand. It was unclear whether or not Toyota would help foot the bill for the requested expansion.

The source tells Reuters that Toyota based the number of inflators it would purchase from Nippon Kayaku on the number of vehicles with Takata-produced airbags that could eventually become a danger for explosive ruptures.

If Toyota switches to the Nippon-produced inflators, it “will replace the high-risk ones, in other words the older ones, first and then proceed sequentially,” the source says.

Still, some say the move doesn’t mean Toyota will stop buying Takata airbags or parts entirely.

“Toyota wouldn’t want its business with Takata to disappear … This is a strategy where it’s trying to maintain business and reduce risk,” Takaki Nakanishi, chief executive of Nakanishi Research Institute, which specializes in the automotive industry, tells Reuters.

Exclusive: Toyota to buy 13 million air-bag inflators from Takata rival – sources [Reuters]

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