The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has sent a special order to TK Holdings, Takata's American unit, asking for documents related to the defective airbags.

The company has been asked to submit the documents by 1 December or face a US$35m fine.

"We are compelling Takata to produce documents and answer questions under oath relevant to our ongoing investigation into defective airbags they have produced," David Friedman, NHTSA's deputy administrator, said in a statement.

Alby Berman, Takata spokesman, said, the company "is cooperating fully with NHTSA and is working to meet their requests."

The company has been asked to produce documents related to communication with its customers and rivals about the ruptured airbags. The NHTSA has also called for documents related to manufacturing issues connected with problems in production of airbag inflators, including those cited in a 17 October Reuters article about manufacturing problems at the company's Mexico inflator plant.

The regulatory body has also ordered Takata to provide a list of every death or injury, lawsuit or claim relating to ruptured airbags.

Since 2008, over 10m cars in the US and more than 17m worldwide have been recalled due to defective Takata air bags. These inflators have caused at least four deaths and several serious injuries.