Editor's note: an earlier version of this story used an outdated title for Autoliv executive Steve Fredin. He is now group vice president, sales & engineering.
DETROIT -- Congressional lawmakers in the U.S. have suggested that rival airbag suppliers could help Takata Corp. produce enough inflators to repair 10 million U.S. vehicles recalled since 2008.
But Steve Fredin, Autoliv's 52-year-old group vice president of sales & engineering, warns that a rescue is going to take time -- and money.
In an interview Nov. 24, Fredin emphasized that the company -- the world's largest airbag producer -- is willing to help.
Then, he ran through a long list of hurdles -- such as cost, propellant shortages and time-consuming tests -- that will come as sobering news to anyone who envisions a team of rivals quickly lifting Takata out of its mess.
According to Fredin, the Swedish supplier would have to spend $30 million to $50 million to add new production capacity, a project that probably would take 10 to 12 months. New inflators would require months of tests, too.
Suppliers' ability to make more inflators took on added urgency last week when the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration formally demanded that Takata participate in national recalls of driver-side airbags. Some recalls are now for vehicles in high-humidity states only.
Fredin, a 26-year veteran at Autoliv, says he has not committed to adding production capacity despite requests from various automakers, which he would not name.
With added overtime and weekend production, Autoliv can squeeze out limited production runs of 10,000 or 20,000 units, Fredin said.
But any major orders -- such as a couple of million inflators -- would require Autoliv's factories in Utah to add production lines. And Fredin wants long-term commitments for those.
"We don't have spare capacity lying around," Fredin said. "We've offered to help by running extra shifts and weekends. But to make millions of inflators, we'd need a new assembly line."