Drivers in the US might be stuck with quite a wait to get their vehicles repaired under the Takata airbag inflator recall. As things stand now, the Japanese supplier could need as long as two years to produce enough replacement parts to service every affected model in America. If the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is successful in making the campaign nationwide, then that timeline could grow even longer.
Mounting government pressure, including a recent Senate hearing (pictured above), is attempting to push a solution. Takata is currently building about 300,000 replacement inflators a month at its Monclova, Mexico, factory, and the company plans to boost that to around 450,000 by January, according to Automotive News. The business is also moving some production to Freiburg, Germany.
Because Takata isn’t the only player in the world producing airbags, it might seem that the affected automakers could simply switch companies. However, that likely isn’t going to work either. “We have been advised by suppliers that the development and production of a replacement inflator for a particular model by a supplier other than Takata could take a minimum of one year, and could take longer,” said Dino Triantafyllos, Toyota chief quality officer in North America to Automotive News.
Actually getting people to bring their vehicle to dealers for the recall is an issue, as well. It only takes about an hour to switch out inflators. However, despite national publicity, documents submitted to NHTSA from eight of the affected automakers indicate only 437,936 vehicles are fixed out of a pool of about 7.5 million, according to Automotive News. With models going back as far as 2000 potentially needing the new parts, tracking down the current owner can be difficult. Just look at the similar problems Jeep is facing over its campaign to protect fuel tanks on older SUVs.