By David Morgan
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Takata Corp's unprecedented recall of potentially deadly air bag inflators affects more than the 11 auto manufacturers that have already been identified, the top U.S. auto safety regulator said on Monday.
Mark Rosekind, who heads the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, told reporters that his agency will disclose new automakers at a one-hour public hearing on the Takata recall set for Thursday.
"It goes beyond the 11," said Rosekind, who met with automakers and suppliers affected by the Takata recall over the summer. On Thursday, NHTSA is expected to make a case that it should coordinate the Takata recall to ensure that an estimated 19 million defective Takata air bag inflators in U.S. vehicles are replaced by safer alternatives.
Rosekind also said he believes automakers could follow the lead of General Motors Co by moving quickly on Takata-related recalls as additional attention is focused on the danger.
"It would not surprise me if other people decide to deal earlier and faster with these issues," Rosekind said.
The air bag inflators, which can explode with too much force and spray metal shrapnel into passenger compartments, have been linked to at least eight deaths and more than 100 injuries worldwide.
Experts say the ammonium nitrate used as a chemical accelerator in the inflators could become unstable after being exposed to high humidity over a period of time. Some have suggested that auto design, including how well sealed passenger compartments are against humidity, could also be a factor.
"Think about age, high humidity, all the different factors. Now you add design of the vehicle," Rosekind said.
Newer Takata inflators have not been shown to be a problem, he added.
"So far the testing is showing that the newer ones seem to be solid," Rosekind said.
(Editing by Matthew Lewis)