March 13, 2018 / 9:38 PM / 9 months ago

Honda, Ford to testify at U.S. Senate Takata hearing: aides

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Executives from Honda Motor Co (7267.T), Ford Motor Co (F.N) and Key Safety Systems will testify at a March 20 hearing on the ongoing massive Takata Corp TKTDQ.PK air bag inflator recalls of more than 60 million vehicles, committee aides briefed on the matter said Tuesday.

FILE PHOTO: A woman stands next to a logo of Takata Corp at a showroom for vehicles in Tokyo, Japan, November 6, 2015. REUTERS/Toru Hanai/File Photo

A Senate Commerce subcommittee is holding a hearing on the largest-ever recall in automotive history that some lawmakers say is moving too slow.

The hearing will include National Highway Traffic Safety Deputy Administrator Heidi King; John Buretta, the independent monitor of the Takata recall program,; Honda North America Executive Vice President Rick Schostek and Desi Ujkashevic, global director of Ford’s automotive safety office.

Takata said in June that it has recalled, or expected to recall, about 125 million vehicles worldwide by 2019, including more than 60 million in the United States in vehicles built by 19 automakers.

At least 22 deaths and hundreds of injuries worldwide are linked to the Takata inflators that can explode with excessive force, unleashing metal shrapnel inside cars and trucks. The defect led Takata to file for bankruptcy protection in June.

Under the bankruptcy plan, Takata is selling its non-air bag inflator businesses to Key Safety Systems, a unit of China’s Ningbo Joyson Electronic Corp (600699.SS). Joe Perkins, chief financial officer of Key Safety Systems, will also testify at the Senate hearing, as will David Kelly, a former NHTSA official who is director of a coalition testing Takata inflators.

Last month, Ford warned 33,000 owners of older pickup trucks to stop driving them until Takata inflators can be replaced after a second death in a 2006 Ford Ranger caused by a defective Takata inflator was reported. The other 20 deaths have occurred in Honda vehicles. Honda issued a similar directive for some vehicles in 2016.

The office of Senator Jerry Moran, the Republican who chairs the subcommittee, said last week the hearing would review recall completion rates, the Takata bankruptcy and other efforts to get unrepaired recalled vehicles fixed.

Takata and Honda did not immediately comment.

Ford spokeswoman Christin Baker said the automaker appreciated the opportunity to testify and customer safety was a top priority.

NHTSA says just over half of the 40 million inflators recalled to date have been replaced.

Takata pleaded guilty in 2017 to a single felony count of wire fraud to resolve a U.S. Justice Department investigation and agreed to a $1 billion settlement.

Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Lisa Shumaker

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