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U.S. safety regulators do not expect Japanese auto parts maker Takata Corp. to be able to fully supply replacement parts for millions of defective air bags until after February. They urged Takata and the automakers it supplies to seek additional parts from other companies.The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which has come under fire for being too lax in dealing with the defective air bags, also called on automakers to be ready to expand their recalls beyond the warm and humid regions believed to be the epicenter of the problem. The defective air bags, which can launch metal shards into car occupants, have been tied to at least four deaths and many serious injuries. They have triggered the recall of more than 10 million vehicles since 2008 by 10 different manufacturers.
Takata must boost production and even tap competitors to address demand while car makers must do much more to aid the recall effort, a top safety official said in letters to manufacturers. "More can and should be done as soon as possible to prevent any further tragedies," the NHTSA's deputy director, David Friedman wrote to auto makers. Car makers should boost advertising to alert drivers of air bag dangers and offer loaner cars during repair, he said.