Takata, Toyota, Honda and BMW are scheduled to testify at a committee hearing of the U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday morning.
Lawmakers are likely to press Takata and its customers to expand regional recalls of defective airbag inflators into nationwide recalls.
But that, in turn, could worsen a chronic shortage of replacement inflators. Early next year, Takata expects to be producing 450,000 replacement inflators a month -- not nearly enough to allow quick repairs of about 10 million recalled vehicles recalled since 2008.
A subcommittee of the House Energy & Commerce Committee will hold the hearing, scheduled for 10 a.m., Wednesday. It will feature the following executives:
- Hiroshi Shimizu, Takata’s senior vice president for global quality assurance
- Abbas Saadat, Toyota Motor Corp.’s vice president of vehicle safety
- Rick Schostek, executive vice president of Honda North America
- Craig Westbrok, vice president of aftersales at BMW North America
- David Friedman, deputy administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
The subcommittee must wrestle with clashing priorities. More inflators are needed, but can other suppliers such as Autoliv, TRW and Daicel produce replacement inflators?
During a contentious Senate commerce committee hearing on Nov. 20, Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., suggested that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration should require Takata to let other suppliers produce replacement inflators.
But that might be problematic.
In a Nov. 24 interview with Automotive News, Steve Fredin, president of Autoliv Americas, warned that he would have to spend $30 million to $50 million to add new capacity, a project that could take 10 to 12 months.