[NEW YORK] Embattled Japanese auto supplier Takata said on Monday it will double its production of replacement airbags in the next six months in response to a massive global safety recall.
Takata, under fire from safety regulators over defective airbags linked to at least five fatalities, said it increased production of airbag replacement kits from 350,000 per month in December to 450,000 per month currently. Output will hit 900,000 in September.
"Takata has dramatically increased the production of airbag replacement kits in support of automotive recalls and safety campaigns," the company said.
"Takata also is working with other suppliers to further increase the availability of replacement kits for its automotive customers."
About 20 million vehicles produced by some of the world's biggest automakers are being recalled due to the risk their Takata-made airbags could deploy with excessive explosive power, spraying potentially fatal shrapnel into the vehicle.
The problem has been linked to at least five deaths globally, with a sixth death under investigation.
Takata said it was convening a meeting in Michigan this week with engineers from its automaker customers to go over preliminary research on the root cause of the airbag problem.
The company said preliminary testing supports its contention that age and long-term exposure to high-heat, high-humidity climates were key factors in the accidents.
US safety regulators late last month began fining Takata US$14,000 a day for allegedly stonewalling an investigation into the airbags. Takata disputed the charge and said it was "fully committed" to assisting regulators.