Toyota may buy replacement airbag inflators from three Takata rivals

TOKYO — Toyota Motor Corp., recalling about 12 million vehicles worldwide to replace Takata Corp. airbags, said it may tap three additional suppliers to boost supply of the components.

The automaker is considering using inflators from Autoliv Inc., Daicel Corp. and Nippon Kayaku Co. for replacement air bags, spokeswoman Kayo Doi said by phone. Toyota may use the additional components to supplement supply of inflators from Takata and speed up repairs, she said.

Automakers are reducing their reliance on Takata as the industry struggles to find the root cause behind a record vehicle-safety recall. Toyota told U.S. regulators last month that it expected suppliers other than Takata to provide about 23 percent of the replacement inflators needed to fix about 2.9 million vehicles the company is recalling in the country.

Toyota also told regulators it’s supporting the increased cost of replacement parts production, including to help add capacity.

The Japanese carmaker last month asked Nippon Kayaku to increase production in order to supply 13 million inflators to the company from July next year through 2020, Reuters reported, citing people familiar with the matter.

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.

Recall pressure

Two key U.S. senators on Thursday urged Takata to recall immediately all cars equipped with the company’s airbags, a demand that could affect more than 50 million cars on U.S. roads.

Toyota based the amount of Nippon Kayaku purchases on the number of vehicles with Takata-made inflators it thinks could become dangerous as the cars age over the next few years, the people said.

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, one individual said.

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 asked Nippon Kayaku, a century-old company that also manufactures chemicals and pharmaceuticals, to expand its production facilities to meet the demand, said the sources, who asked not to be named because the discussions are confidential.

Tokyo-based Nippon Kayaku could not immediately be reached for comment.

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