DETROIT/TOKYO 02/Dec/2014: US auto safety regulators said Takata Corp\'s response to an order to expand a recall nationwide was \"disappointing\", critising the Japanese auto parts supplier for shirking responsibility over its potentially deadly air bags. Takata, at the centre of a global recall of more than 16 million cars in the past six years, had until Tuesday to respond to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration\'s (NHTSA) order to expand a regional recall and replace driver-side air bags from across the United States. Takata has not made its response to NHTSA public, but a spokeswoman in Tokyo said the contents echoed a statement by the company\'s chief executive on Tuesday. In that statement, Shigehisa Takada left the decision for a nationwide recall up to automakers, and made no mention of whether Takata was admitting that its air bag inflators were defective, as ordered by NHTSA last week. \"Takata shares responsibility for keeping drivers safe, and we believe a
MUST DO MORE In his statement released on Tuesday in the United States, Takada outlined steps aimed at demonstrating Takata\'s commitment to safety, including forming an independent panel to audit its manufacturing procedures. Takata has recruited three former US transportation secretaries to help it navigate the growing crisis. Samuel K. Skinner, a former White House Chief of Staff and US Transportation Secretary, will lead an independent quality panel, while Rodney Slater and Norman Mineta will advise Takata. A report by the panel headed by Skinner on Takata\'s manufacturing processes will be made public, Takada said. He said Takata would take dramatic actions to increase output of replacement air bag inflator kits, including working with rivals and examining whether their products can be used safely. I know we can and must do more, he said.
CONGRESSIONAL HOT SEAT Takata\'s announcement comes ahead of a second congressional hearing on Wednesday that will likely focus on Takata\'s response to NHTSA\'s order. Hiroshi Shimizu, Takata\'s senior vice president for global quality assurance, said in prepared remarks that a phased-in recall should give priority to US regions with higher humidity - believed to be a factor in some air bag ruptures. Honda North America Executive Vice President Rick Schostek said in his testimony that a national recall would lead to parts shortages, but the Japanese automaker was seriously considering it for driver-side air bag inflators. Toyota North America Vice President Abbas Saadat said in his testimony that the automaker wanted additional assurances about the integrity and quality of Takata\'s manufacturing processes. Toyota and Honda called on Tuesday for independent industry-wide tests of Takata air bag inflators subject to recalls.