Washington — The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is ramping up oversight of a record-setting recall of about 33.8 million vehicles by 11 major automakers and says it is considering issuing an “accelerated remedy directive” for defective air bags to get them fixed as quickly as possible.
The agency also is considering ordering automakers to allow repair shops — other than dealers — to complete recall repairs for faulty Takata Corp. air bags that can explode with too much force and throw shrapnel at drivers and passengers. The defect is linked to at least eight deaths and more than 100 injuries.
The agency’s chief Mark Rosekind told the Senate Commerce Committee on Tuesday that the agency sent a request to Takata Corp. on a new special order also seeking new records by July 10 on all air bags produced by the Japanese firm with a certain propellant.
The agency in a June 19 letter said it wants to know how many air bags are defective, how long it will take to produce enough replacement parts and how many replacement air bags already installed will need to be replaced again. The agency wants to know how Takata is deciding how to ship inflators to each of the 11 automakers involved in the recall.
Letters sent to Honda Motor Co., Toyota Motor Corp., Ford Motor Co., Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV, General Motors Co., BMW AG, Nissan Motor Co. and others are intended to start gathering information for the coordinated remedy process.
Rosekind said meetings with automakers will start July 1; a public hearing with all the automakers is expected in September. NHTSA plans to hold a public hearing around Labor Day after it formulates a plan to oversee the recalls.
NHTSA wants updated figures from automakers on the number of vehicles covered by the Takata recalls and wants to know how automakers will be able to trace replacement parts. The letter also asks if automakers are in talks with any other air bag manufacturers about acquiring replacement inflators.
NHTSA also wants automakers to disclose if they should order other repair shops to replace inflators — in addition to the automakers dealer networks — and what incentives they have given dealers to get repairs completed in a speedy fashion.