A coalition of 10 automakers is negotiating to hire a former federal auto safety regulator to oversee an investigation into the Takata air bag inflator defects, the Wall Street Journal reports.
Led by Toyota, the group of automakers is reportedly in discussions to hire David Kelly for the job. Kelly headed the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration during the final five months of the George W. Bush administration. Kelly’s experience also includes working as chief of staff to Nicole Nason, whom he replaced as the head of NHTSA, and serving as program manager and director of the National Safety Council’s air bag and seat belt safety campaign.
Kelly now works for Storm King Strategies, a government relations firm, according to his LinkedIn profile.
The defective Takata air bag inflators have been linked to at least five deaths worldwide. Nearly 8 million vehicles in the U.S. have been recalled to address the inflators, which can rupture and disperse sharp metal fragments upon air bag deployment.
The automakers affected by the recalls are Honda, Toyota, BMW, Chrysler, Ford, General Motors, Mazda, Mitsubishi, Nissan and Subaru.
In addition to hiring someone to oversee the investigation, the automakers need to select an engineering firm to conduct the air bag inflator testing. Several companies are reportedly in the running.