Toy­ota changes airbags sup­plier

Lesotho Times - - Motoring -

Tokyo –– Toy­ota is to buy mil­lions of airbags from an al­ter­na­tive sup­plier to re­duce its risk from po­ten­tially lethal air-bag in­fla­tors supplied by Takata.

It has asked com­po­nent sup­plier Nip­pon kayaku to in­crease pro­duc­tion so it can sup­ply more than 13 mil­lion in­fla­tors from next July un­til 2020

The move is the most proac­tive yet by man­u­fac­tur­ers af­fected by the world’s big­gest automotive re­call, which has prompted more than 10 au­tomak­ers to re­call tens of mil­lions of ve­hi­cles since 2008 to re­place Takata airbags.

Takata airbag in­fla­tors have been linked to eight deaths and more than 100 in­juries af­ter ex­plod­ing with ex­ces­sive force, spray­ing shrap­nel in­side ve­hi­cles. Au­tomak­ers are bear­ing the cost of most re­calls while the root cause is in­ves­ti­gated.

Law­mak­ers in the United States have urged Takata to re­call im­me­di­ately all cars equipped with the com­pany’s airbags, a de­mand that could af­fect more than 50 mil­lion cars on US roads.

Toy­ota has based the quan­tity to be bought from Nip­pon kayaku on the num­ber of ve­hi­cles with Takata-made in­fla­tors it thinks could be­come dan­ger­ous as the cars age over the next few years.

If Toy­ota switches to Nip­pon kayaku in­fla­tors, it “will re­place the high-risk ones, in other words the older ones, first and then

pro­ceed se­quen­tially” to newer in­fla­tors.

Pre­cau­tion­ary switch Takata has said long-term ex­po­sure to heat and high hu­mid­ity can make its airbags de­ploy too force­fully. All the ve­hi­cles re­called so far are at least five years old.

Toy­ota, which vies with Volk­swa­gen as the world’s big­gest car­maker, is a pi­o­neer of lean man­u­fac­tur­ing and keeps min­i­mal in­ven­tory to re­duce costs and im­prove ef­fi­ciency.

So far it has re­called more than 12 mil­lion ve­hi­cles with Takata-made airbag in­fla­tors and ap­par­ently con­sid­ers a switch to Nip­pon Kayaku in­fla­tors as a pre­cau­tion in case fur­ther re­calls are re­quired.

Af­ter be­ing crit­i­cised for act­ing too slowly on its ac­cel­er­a­tor-pedal re­call cri­sis ive years ago, Toy­ota wants to be able to re­place at-risk in­fla­tors promptly if it needs to.

The move doesn’t mean Toy­ota will stop buy­ing Takata in­fla­tors.

Re­search in­sti­tute head Takaki nakanishi said: “Toy­ota wouldn’t want its busi­ness with Takata to dis­ap­pear - it’s try­ing to main­tain busi­ness and re­duce risk.

“As for Takata, even if its in­fla­tor busi­ness shrinks, it can cer­tainly still sur­vive as an airbag maker if it buys in­fla­tors from other com­pa­nies.”

Takata uses in­fla­tors made by Dai­cel as well as its own –– and this has in­creased since the re­call be­gan. –– Reuters

Takata-made airbags are be­lieved to have caused eight deaths.

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