US: Takata airbag crisis is still escalating image

While the US auto safety regulator NHTSA is asking Japan’s Takata Corp. to expand the regional recall to a nation wide level and the US Congress has scheduled another hearing on the matter, many analysts and industry observers still see the crisis escalating.

Takata is facing mounting pressure from the public opinion and regulators around the world, with US authorities even asking competitors of the Japanese auto safety supplier to step in and produce replacement parts. That’s because Takata Corp has repeatedly said it’s not able to ramp up production fast enough to swiftly fix all the affected vehicles. The Congress is also expected to hold another hearing on the risk of exploding airbag inflators before it closes for the Christmas holiday.

The US auto safety regulator, the National Highway Traffic Safety Adminstration (NHTSA), has problems of its own – it has been slapped repeatedly this year because of its inability to react faster to the GM ignition switch debacle and now the Takata scandal. It’s also without a leader for some time, as Mark Rosekind, President Barack Obama’s nominee as the next chief of the agency, still needs to go through long Senate confirmation hearings. Meanwhile, today Takata is expected to give its answer to NHTSA’s request to expand to a nationwide level the regional recalls that already encompassed millions of vehicles.