Senators call for another Takata airbag recall hearing


WASHINGTON — U.S. senators plan to convene a previously undisclosed hearing to focus on the status of Takata airbag inflator recalls, the largest and most complex recall process in auto history that some lawmakers say is too slow.

March 20 is the tentative hearing date for the U.S. Senate Commerce subcommittee that oversees the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, committee officials said.

Takata said in June that it has recalled, or expected to recall, about 125 million vehicles worldwide by 2019, including more than 60 million in the United States in vehicles built by 19 automakers.

At least 22 deaths and hundreds of injuries worldwide are linked to the Takata inflators that can explode with excessive force, unleashing metal shrapnel inside cars and trucks. The defect led Takata to file for bankruptcy protection in June.

Under the bankruptcy plan, Takata is selling its non-airbag inflator businesses to Key Safety Systems, a unit of China’s Ningo Joyson Electric Corp., in a deal valued at $1.6 billion. 

The office of U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kan., the chairman of the subcommittee, said that the hearing would examine the “current manufacturer recall completion rates, the Takata bankruptcy and transition to new ownership under Key Safety Systems, and what all stakeholders including NHTSA are doing to ensure this process continues to move forward.”

A spokesman for Takata did not immediately comment on Wednesday.

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