AUBURN HILLS, Michigan — Takata on Monday said it has "dramatically increased production of airbag replacement kits in support of automotive recalls and safety campaigns," a move that should reassure consumers waiting for replacement parts.
The Japanese auto supplier said it has increased production capacity to 450,000 replacement kits per month, up from 350,000 in December, and expects to be producing approximately 900,000 kits per month by September 2015.
Takata has been at the center of a massive recall campaign.
"The company remains confident that newer inflators and those not exposed to prolonged humidity and heat are safe," Takata said in a statement.
It added that it also is working with other suppliers to further increase the availability of replacement kits for its automotive customers.
Since 2008, U.S. automakers have recalled about 17 million vehicles with Takata airbags in the U.S., according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Those defective airbag inflators can rupture when they deploy, shooting metal fragments at vehicle occupants. The recall is linked to six deaths in Honda vehicles.
NHTSA last week upgraded an investigation into 11.5 million vehicles with Takata airbags to determine if recalls should be expanded.
Takata also said it met this week with automakers and Germany's Fraunhofer Institute, a research firm, to provide an update on its testing to determine the root cause of the airbag inflator problem.
The research "so far has supported our initial analysis that age and long-term exposure over a period of many years to a climate of persistent heat and high absolute humidity are significant factors in the small number of inflators that have malfunctioned," Takata said.
"Variability in vehicle makes and models is an additional factor indicated by the testing results thus far, and Takata also continues to consider variability in the inflator manufacturing process as a potential contributing factor."
Edmunds says: Owners of affected vehicles should remain in close touch with their dealers so that repairs can be made once parts become available.