NEW YORK – A group of 10 automakers affected by faulty air bags made by embattled Japanese parts supplier Takata Corp. said Thursday it has selected the aerospace company Orbital ATK Inc. to lead an independent investigation into the defect.
The automakers also announced that David Kelly, former head of the National Highway Transportation Safety Agency in the U.S., has been named as project manager of the probe to test the air bag inflators, which are prone to improperly inflating and spraying metal fragments.
“Orbital ATK is one of the world’s leading engineering firms, and we are confident that their extensive expertise will help speed and advance ongoing investigation of Takata air bag inflators,” the group said in a press release. “This selection, along with David Kelly, represents an important step forward in our industrywide effort.”
The group said the industrywide investigation into the defective air bags will supplement the testing being done by Takata. The root cause of the defect has not been identified.
The automakers are Toyota Motor Corp., Honda Motor Co., Mazda Motor Corp., Mitsubishi Motors Corp., Nissan Motor Co., Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd., BMW AG, FCA US LLC, Ford Motor Co. and General Motors Co.
Separately, NHTSA announced Wednesday it will step up its probe into Takata’s defective air bags and ordered the Japanese company to preserve inflators removed from recalled vehicles.
It said that about 17 million cars have been recalled since 2008 to fix the faulty air bags, but only about 2 million have been repaired. The defect has also been linked to several deaths in the United States and Malaysia.