Japan’s Daicel Corp announced recently it would move to construct its second US plant to produce airbag inflators earlier than originally planned.
The Japanese auto safety equipment supplier said its second US factory would be constructed in early 2016, pushing ahead the original strategy in part of the rising demand from automakers for production alternatives for the potentially flawed and deadly inflators made by its Japanese rival – Takata Corp. The Osaka-based Daicel Corp. said initially it would initially discuss the plans of building its second US plant sometime after its current mid-term business strategy would come to fruition in March 2017, but ultimately opted to push forward the plant construction to the end of the year through March 2016, according to a company spokesperson.
Millions of cars equipped with Takata-produced airbag inflators have been recalled since 2008 – most of them in the past two years in the US, though – because the potentially defective part could explode with too much force and send metal shards and shrapnel flying inside the cabin at high velocity. So far, at least five fatalities were reported, with dozens of injuries – all in Honda cars, the auto supplier’s largest client. Now the ten automakers implicated in the recalls have also turned to Daicel, Autoliv Inc and other parts makers to lift the supply of inflators – with Takata having trouble producing them in the quantities needed to service the millions of cars recalled worldwide. Daicel initially wanted to supply the inflators from its factories in Japan but said it would now also use the new plant to be built in Arizona.