Takata says it’s refusing to comply with regulators demanding airbag recall to ensure passenger safety

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NEW YORK (CNNMoney) — Takata says it’s refusing to comply with federal regulators demanding a national recall of its airbags in order to ensure passenger safety.

The National Highway Safety Administration has demanded that Takata recall driver side airbags nationwide, rather than only in states with high humidity, which was the initial focus of an investigation into exploding airbags. But in prepared remarks for a Congressional hearing Wednesday, a Takata executive said the company believes it is best to keep the recall limited to those high humidity areas.

“Takata continues to believe that the public safety is best served if the identified areas of high absolute humidity remain the priority,” said Hiroshi Shimizu, Takata’s senior vice president of quality assurance.

Shimizu said the company is willing to work with the 10 automakers whose cars have the Takata airbags if they decide to expand their recalls. About 8 million of the cars were manufactured by Honda, which has so far recalled 5 million of the autos.

And Shimizu again apologized for the deaths and injuries tied to the exploding airbags. At least four deaths have been attributed to the airbags, and at least two drivers suffered vision damage due to airbag shrapnel.

David Friedman, NHTSA’s deputy administrator, is set to testify that the agency no longer believes a regional recall is sufficient since there has been at least one exploding driver’s side airbag reported outside of that region. He said the agency is prepared to take the legal action needed to force Takata to comply.

But Friedman clarified that the agency is not ordering a national recall of passenger side airbags made by Takata, and is sticking with the regional recall in that instance.

“At this point, a national recall of all Takata [passenger side] air bags would divert replacement air bags from areas where they are clearly needed, putting lives at risk,” he said in his prepared remarks.

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