WASHINGTON — Saying that families are "in peril," a House Energy and Commerce panel announced on Monday that it will hold a June 2 hearing on the record-setting recall of nearly 34 million vehicles with defective Takata airbags.
"We have endured a year of Takata ruptures and recalls and families are still at risk," said U.S. Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI), the full committee chairman, in a statement. "No excuses. Michiganders, and all Americans, have a right to answers."
He added: "When it comes to auto safety, 'maybe' is not an acceptable answer, and 'later' is not an acceptable timetable. It's past time for Takata, NHTSA, and the manufacturers to explain to drivers what went wrong and how and when they can fix it."
With summer driving and family vacations on the horizon, the committee said there was added urgency to finding answers.
"When an airbag — a device built to enhance motorist safety — is actually putting families in peril, we can't wait years for a fix," Upton said.
As of Tuesday morning, a witness list was not yet posted on the committee Web site.
The Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing and Trade hearing is entitled "An Update on the Takata Airbag Ruptures and Recalls."
U.S. safety regulators ordered Japanese supplier Takata to expand the recall of potentially defective airbags to cover nearly 34 million vehicles from 11 manufacturers last Tuesday, making it the largest automotive safety recall in U.S. history.
The defective inflators in Takata airbags could rupture, sending metal shards into the passenger compartment and causing serious injury or death. At least six deaths and more than 100 injuries have been linked to Takata airbag ruptures.
Takata last week said it will continue to cooperate with "all future regulatory actions and proceedings that are part of NHTSA's ongoing investigation and oversight of the Takata airbag inflators and accompanying remedial actions."
Consumers have been rattled by the Takata recall expansion, in part because NHTSA has not yet posted any information on its new Recalls Spotlight microsite about which vehicles are affected by the latest developments.
Also, it is expected to take months or longer for replacement parts to become available at dealerships. It also may take months for automakers and safety regulators to finish investigations into what is causing the problem with the Takata airbag inflators.
Edmunds says: The pressure is on automakers, Takata and the feds to move faster and restore safety as soon as possible.