DETROIT -- Toyota Motor Corp. has a “healthy” supply of replacement parts that should allow dealers to move forward with repairs required by the widening recall of airbags made by Takata Corp., said Bob Carter, senior vice president of the automaker’s U.S. sales unit.
“We have a good initial supply and the stream afterwards looks healthy, so repairs can begin immediately,” Carter said, speaking on the sidelines of a charity event here.
Some 877,000 cars and trucks Toyota produced for the 2002-05 model years are equipped with defective and potentially deadly Takata airbags, according to a list issued by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The devices have a defect that can cause them to malfunction in a deployment, spraying shards of metal and plastic at vehicle occupants.
The defective airbags have been implicated in at least four U.S. deaths and more than 100 injuries in incidents reported nationally.
Earlier this week, Toyota officials suggested owners could have dealers disable the defective airbags temporarily and leave the passenger seat unoccupied, if replacement parts are not immediately available.
Carter said Toyota is concentrating its supply of replacement airbags in areas with high humidity. Humidity is a factor that regulators say can cause the airbags to malfunction.
The majority of the affected Toyota vehicles are Corollas that have passenger-side airbags made by Takata. Smaller numbers of Matrix, Sequoia, Tundra and Lexus SC vehicles are also covered by the recalls.
NHTSA this week raised the number of affected vehicles in the U.S. to 7.8 million. Honda vehicles account for almost 5.1 million of the total.