Two weeks ago, we posted about the October 21, 2014, Takata airbag recall
by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Now the
Recently, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, among other news
sources, reported that beginning as early as 2004, Takata intentionally
disregarded the substantial dangers posed by the airbags – and worse
yet, may have taken extensive measures to cover up the troubling findings.
Former employees of Takata have anonymously spoken up about the airbag
suppliers highly questionable practices, including secretive testing,
failure to notify federal authorities of the safety risks, false representations
to U.S. regulators and auto manufacturers, as well as data destruction.
For example, The New York Times reported that about a decade ago, Takata
was conducting undisclosed, after-hours testing on multiple airbags at
its U.S. headquarters in Michigan. The experimental findings were nearly
identical to the justification for the latest recall:
"[T]he steel inflaters in two of the airbags cracked during the tests,
a condition that can lead to rupture, the former employees said. The result
was so startling that engineers began designing possible fixes in preparation
for a recall, the former employees said."
But it was the subsequent actions by Takata officials that were equally,
if not more, alarming:
"But instead of alerting federal safety regulators to the possible
danger, Takata executives discounted the results and ordered the lab technicians
to delete the testing data from their computers and dispose of the airbag
inflaters in the trash, they said."
Takata will now be the subject of multiple investigations, including the
NHTSA, the U.S. Attorney's office in Manhattan, and the House Energy
and Commerce Committee has now requested the Government Accountability
Office to look further into matters. The Wall Street Journal reported
that two U.S. Senators have requested that the U.S. Department of Justice
initiate a criminal investigation into Takata's practices.