A House panel is expected to press Takata Corp. for the results of recent tests that could indicate whether the Japanese supplier’s airbag inflators might pose a safety hazard outside hot, humid areas.
The House Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing and Trade released a memo Monday that spelled out several unanswered questions about the defects that have triggered recalls of 10 million vehicles since 2008.
According to the Dec. 1 memo, Takata so far has tested 4,000 of the 12,000 inflators that it collected from vehicles throughout the U.S.
Of those, an estimated 1,000 to 2,000 inflators were collected from areas outside high-humidity locales such as Florida, Hawaii, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.
Takata previously reported that none of the inflators collected outside the high-humidity region failed its tests. But the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has pressured automakers to expand their regional recalls nationwide after a Ford Mustang’s airbag malfunctioned in North Carolina in August.
Hiroshi Shimizu, Takata’s senior vice president for global quality assurance, is expected to testify about the company’s inflator tests at Wednesday’s hearing.
He also is likely to be asked for more details about any changes Takata has made to the design and manufacture of its inflators.
The House subcommittee wants to know whether Takata’s replacement inflators are essentially of the same design as the defective inflators.
The memo released Monday asserts that Takata has not disclosed whether it has made any changes to the design specs or manufacturing process.
The memo adds that several automakers told staffers that “they were replacing the inflators with ‘like’ parts indicating that it was the same inflator with the same propellant presumably manufactured the same way but of a newer vintage.”
Company spokesman Alby Berman could not immediately be reached for comment.