Separately, Takata Chairman Shigehisa Takada announced plans to form an independent panel to audit his company’s production of inflators -- part of an effort to reassure lawmakers and regulators that it has fixed chronic quality-control problems.
In written testimony submitted to the House Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing and Trade for a Wednesday hearing, Deputy Administrator David Friedman said a nationwide recall of Takata’s passenger airbag inflators “is not supported by the data as we now understand it.”
The agency’s top priority is to ensure an adequate supply of replacement inflators in high-humidity areas such as Florida, Hawaii, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
“At this point, a national recall of all Takata air bags would divert replacement air bags from areas where they are clearly needed, putting lives at risk,” Friedman wrote to the subcommittee, which is part of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.
In his own written testimony, Takata’s Hiroshi Shimizu asserted that the recalls should be focused on high-humidity areas.
Shimizu, Takata's senior vice president for global quality assurance, said no inflators from vehicles outside high-humidity areas have failed Takata’s tests.
According to a Commerce committee staff document, the company has tested about 4,000 inflators, including 1,000 to 2,000 units collected outside high-humidity areas.
Independent panel formed
Meanwhile, in today’s statement, Chairman Takada said he will form a “quality assurance panel” to audit the company’s production methods. The panel will be chaired by former U.S. Transportation Secretary Samuel Skinner.
Takada also pledged to “take dramatic actions” to increase production of replacement inflators.
The company has previously confirmed plans to add two production lines to its inflator factory in Monclova, Mexico. In January, that expansion will raise monthly production of replacement inflators to 450,000 units, up from 300,000 units now.
It was not immediately clear whether Takada expects to boost production above that target.
Takata also appointed two former U.S. transportation secretaries, Rodney Slater and Norman Mineta, to serve as special counsels as the company struggles to get its arms fully around a series of recalls related to defective Takata airbags.
Takata has collected more than 20 terabytes of data in response to requests for information from U.S. safety regulators and is producing more than 360,000 pages of documents for regulators, Takada’s statement said.
Reuters contributed to this report.