Facing a midnight deadline to expand a recall of defective airbags, Takata, the Japanese auto supplier, had not taken any action Tuesday night on the demand by United States regulators.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gave the company an ultimatum last week, to expand the recall beyond a limited geographic region to the rest of the nation or face further legal action and potential penalties. It gave Takata until midnight, Eastern United States time, to comply.
But in a statement released Tuesday morning, Takata’s chief executive, Shigehisa Takada, offered no indication that the company would make such a move.
“We recognize that N.H.T.S.A. has urged Takata and our customers to support expansions of the current regional campaigns in the United States,” he said. When asked to clarify its statement, the company offered no further details.
In a prepared statement for a hearing before a House congressional panel on Wednesday, however, a Takata executive said that the company believed that public safety was best served if limited geographic areas of high humidity “remain the priority for the replacement of suspect inflaters.”
In a statement late Tuesday, David J. Friedman, deputy administrator of the agency, said Takata’s response was disappointing, and added: “Takata shares responsibility for keeping drivers safe and we believe anything short of a national recall does not live up to that responsibility. We will review Takata’s response in full to determine next steps.”
The company’s response is likely to set up a showdown at the hearing, where a Takata representative is scheduled to testify, as are executives from Honda, Toyota and B.M.W. Lawmakers have been calling for more aggressive action on recalling and repairing the defective airbags, including at a Senate hearing on Nov. 20. Mr. Friedman is also expected to testify.
The agency originally agreed in June to a limited recall that covered Florida, Hawaii, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. But regulators pushed for a national recall after learning of an airbag rupture in August in a 2007 Ford Mustang that injured the driver. That episode was in North Carolina, a state that was excluded from the regional recall.
Eleven carmakers have recalled over 14 million cars worldwide, including more than 11 million in the United States, to repair the airbags. At least five deaths have been linked to the airbags, which can explode violently when they deploy, sending metal fragments into the cabin. All occurred in vehicles made by Honda, Takata’s largest customer.
Honda and Toyota on Tuesday called for the auto industry to independently test Takata airbag inflaters that had been the subject of recalls, to supplement testing being undertaken by Takata.
“Toyota is seeking industrywide coordination in support of a yet-to-be-named independent engineering analysis expert to test airbag inflaters,” the company said in a statement. “Independent testing will allow the affected automakers to share test results and analyses, and better understand how best to implement recall repairs.
A Toyota representative will also appear before the House committee on Wednesday. Abbas Saadat, a regional product safety executive for Toyota North America, wrote in House testimony, made available ahead of the hearing, that the company wanted “additional assurances about the integrity and quality of Takata’s manufacturing processes, particularly in light of previous experiences.”
Mr. Takada, in his statement, addressed some concerns that senators had raised in the Nov. 20 hearing. He said that the company had hired two former transportation secretaries, Rodney E. Slater and Norman Y. Mineta, to serve as special counsels and that it was forming a quality assurance panel, which would prepare a report on the company’s current manufacturing procedures.
The panel, which will be led by Samuel K. Skinner, who was also a transportation secretary before becoming chief of staff under President George H. W. Bush, is reminiscent of an internal audit that General Motors ordered this year to examine how it had failed to disclose a deadly defect for more than a decade. It was unclear whether Takata’s panel would scrutinize past events.
The company also said it would work with other manufacturers to “expand the flexibility of Takata’s replacement program,” which could help increase production of parts to repair vehicles. Mr. Takada said the company was “examining the possible use of competitor products as replacement wherever safe and feasible.”
The use of other suppliers is a concession to concerns raised at the Senate hearing last month. Senator Richard Blumenthal, Democrat of Connecticut, said that Takata’s production of 300,000 replacement parts a month — with a goal of eventually increasing production to 450,000 parts a month — was too low. He encouraged Takata to use other suppliers to help increase production.
Also facing criticism over the scope of the Takata recall is Chrysler. In a letter to the company’s chief executive last week, the safety agency urged Chrysler to expand its recall to include a broader region by Dec. 1. The automaker replied a day later, explaining that it would consider the decision and “make a determination promptly following its review” on Tuesday.
When asked, the company did not say whether a decision had yet been made.