Toyota testing air-bag inflator alternatives to Takata

A car fitted with Takata airbags, subject to a huge product recall. Image courtesy of Takata Corp.
A car fitted with Takata airbags, subject to a huge product recall. Image courtesy of Takata Corp.

Toyota Motor Corp has announced it is testing alternative manufacturers to Takata Corp for air-bag inflators, following industry-wide recalls of more than 30 million inflator units.

According to a Reuters report, Japan’s largest automaker is considering Autoliv and Nippon Kayaku Co as alternatives to Takata, in a bid to rule out the possibility of defective inflators.

The news comes shortly after it was reported that Toyota was expected to buy 13 million airbag inflators from second-tier manufacturer Nippon Kayaku.

A Toyota spokeswoman has said the company is testing the parts to ensure they are compatible with vehicles before they are used.

“(Inflators) are not like stationery, which can be simply swapped.”

“We need to test them first and make sure they’re safe,” the spokeswoman told Reuters.

Toyota has recalled more than 12 million vehicles since 2008 with faulty Takata air-bag inflators.

Autoliv currently supplies parts to Honda Motor Co and the relatively young Swedish-American company could be set to increase production to fill the needs of Toyota.

More than ten Japanese automakers recalled vehicles affected by the defective Takata air-bag inflators, with many looking for alternatives following reports of the defects being linked to eight deaths and more than 100 injuries.

According to Takata, long-term exposure to heat and humidity can cause the airbags to deploy too forcefully, which in extreme cases projects shrapnel within the vehicle.

Toyota is currently using Daicel Corp inflators that the carmaker has deemed safe, although as testing continues additional suppliers are likely.