Federal regulators had given Takata Corp. until Tuesday to widen its recall of air bags to the entire U.S., but the Japanese company appeared to ignore that demand, causing one House lawmaker to say today that her constituents were "literally afraid to drive their cars."
The Associated Press obtained a letter from Takata to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. In it, Takata officials said that NHTSA's demand for a nationwide recall wasn't backed by evidence. They also said the agency lacked the authority to force a recall by a parts-maker.
A NHTSA statement cited by the AP called Takata's response "disappointing." Last week, the agency threatened legal action and fines if Takata didn't expand its recall.
Some experts say Takata would do well to consider expanding its recall.
"[C]onsumer lives may be at risk," Kaitlin Wowak, an assistant professor of management at the University of Notre Dame, said in an email to NPR. "While a nationwide recall could lead to a part shortage, it's Takata's responsibility to figure out how to get more replacement air bags in order to ensure consumers are driving cars with air bags that can save their lives, not take their lives."