WASHINGTON — The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration on Wednesday said there are about 85 million Takata airbag inflators in U.S. vehicles that may need to be recalled, as the Takata airbag recall crisis took another dramatic turn.
"I can confirm there are 85 million unrecalled ammonium nitrate inflators," NHTSA spokesman Bryan Thomas wrote in response to a query from Edmunds.
There is no information yet about which year, make and model of vehicles are included in this latest tally. Takata has until 2019 to demonstrate to federal safety regulators that the unrecalled airbag inflators are safe.
At this point, 28.8 million Takata inflators have been recalled by 14 manufacturers.
The defective inflators can cause the airbags to explode with too much force, shooting metal fragments at vehicle occupants.
More than 100 people have been injured in the U.S. and 11 killed worldwide in crashes linked to the defective airbags.
The new information about the potential for even more Takata recalls comes ahead of a hearing today by a U.S. House panel on oversight of NHTSA.
NHTSA Administrator Mark Rosekind will testify at the hearing. Rosekind is expected to address the growing Takata recall crisis.
In written testimony, he noted: "The process of designing new inflators so that most replacement inflators are now sourced from suppliers other than Takata is not simple and entails some risk."
Approximately one-third of all the vehicles affected by the Takata recalls are Hondas.
In advance of today's hearing, Honda provided an update of its actions to get the word out to consumers about the Takata recall.
Honda dealers are collecting customer contact information to supplement registration data. A recent SMS text-messaging pilot was successful and Honda is now expanding that effort.
"Both automated and live phone calls are being made on a regular basis, attempting to spur recall completion," Honda said.
It added: "Each dealer is slightly different, but many dealers have expanded hours, numbers of technicians, advisors, greeters, etc. to handle additional volume as needed."
More than 17,000 airbag modules containing recalled inflators from Honda and Acura vehicles have been recovered from salvage yards so far.
Honda will debut a "friends and family outreach campaign" in late spring with customers who have already had their recall completed and are being asked to help their friends and family get their car checked.
Edmunds says: Yet another reminder for consumers to check to see if their vehicle is included in the current Takata recall campaign. It's a simple process using NHTSA's VIN Lookup tool.