Takata to form quality control committeee; CEO apologizes for airbag crisis

27 Oct 2014 | Author: | No comments yet »

‘No other supplier other than Takata has used this ammonium nitrate’.

“We deeply regret that the recent recalls of vehicles equipped with our airbags have likely raised significant concerns and troubles to our product users, our customers, shareholders and other stakeholders,” Shigehisa Takada, whose grandfather started the company as a textile manufacturer in the 1930s, said in a statement. “We sincerely apologize for causing any such concerns and troubles.” Air bags made by Takata are linked to at least four deaths and more than 30 injuries in the U.S. after the safety devices deployed with too much force, spraying metal shrapnel at occupants. Oct. 27 (Bloomberg) – The past two years have seen nearly 8 Million vehicles recalled over safety issues in the United States and Nissan says it is not over yet.

Not long after undergoing scrutiny over its part of the February 2014 General Motors ignition switch recall, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration once again is under the gun, this time in its handling of the Takata airbag crisis.TOKYO (Bloomberg) — Takata Corp. said it will form a global quality control committee in response to an auto-safety crisis created by flaws in its airbags. Automotive News reports that the agency’s mostly hands-off approach, allowing automakers to use field actions to recall vehicles in a handful of states and territories where the possibility for catastrophic failure is greatest, is following the same track as the one that ultimately led GM to recall 2.6 million vehicles made in the early to mid-2000s, though on a greater scale.

Bloomberg’s Craig Trudell reports on “First Up.” (Source: Bloomberg) While angie, it is in part to do with the fact that that 8 million figure which you just mentioned which is a pretty big number just has to deal with one issue, and that is an airbag that comes from a japanese supplier, who provides airbags to a large portion of the automobile market hearing at states. Additionally, the NHTSA hasn’t ordered Takata itself to recall its defective airbags, mainly as it waits for more data to confirm the airbags are likely to act more like Claymores than safety devices under high humidity. Though the probes are ongoing, one focus is likely to be Takata’s choice of an unusual explosive chemical to inflate its air bags in milliseconds, according to auto industry executives. In fact, the two parties entered into an agreement in June where affected automakers would conduct said field actions in only areas where those conditions are most prevalent — such as Florida and Puerto Rico, where six reports of failure were recorded. The statement, first posted today, is no longer available on Takata’s website and spokesmen for the Tokyo-based company didn’t immediately return phone calls or respond to e-mails seeking further details.

The Japanese parts maker four years older than Toyota also has said it dealt with lapses in quality control at its plant in Mexico. “No other supplier other than Takata has used this ammonium nitrate,” said Jochen Siebert, Shanghai-based managing director of JSC Automotive Consulting, which advises automakers and parts suppliers. “You could build air bags that were smaller and lighter. Let us be honest, at this point, they must be embarrassed that they have not been able to catch in time problems with these airbag issues , with gm’s ignition switches, which the company knew about more than a decade ago, so when you have these problems with safety issues and cars and it results in deaths, and it affects the u.s. market and the regulator looks like they’ve really missed it, and it has been a problem for many years, the problem is going to be intensified. You have a lot of competition out there, these automakers are fighting for every car buyer they can get their hands on, and trying to maintain trust, that is also a part of it, no? Various basic mistakes have occurred at the plants, such as failure to switch on the equipment to single out defective products, omission of some press processes and inappropriate humidity management for finished products.

We have become increasingly troubled and alarmed by the confusing and conflicting advice being issued by NHTSA and the glacial pace of the agency’s response to this public safety threat. The number of recalled vehicles increased sharply because Takata was unable to identify buyers of some of the defective air bags due to poor record keeping. The unfolding crisis marks a fall from grace for a Tokyo- based company that rode Japan’s postwar industrialization to became a global powerhouse in seat belts that saved lives.

Takata’s case shows how difficult it is for manufacturers to ensure strict product quality control while they expand their operations, observers say.Speech Having now been responsible for making some vehicles more dangerous, Takata’s failures add to growing doubts about auto safety and how well motorists are protected by regulators. In the late 1990s, Takata made ammonium nitrate the chemical-of-choice for its air-bag inflator design, said Siebert, who was advising for the air bag market in Europe at the time. Ammonium nitrate’s weakness lies in its sensitivity to moisture, which makes the propellant unstable, said Scott Upham, president of Valient Market Research, who has followed air bags since they were first going into cars a quarter-century ago. In 2005, Takata closed a Georgia plant that made inflators and shifted production to the Mexico factory, about 300 miles southwest of San Antonio, Texas.

The factory resumed full operations within a month, and Takata’s customers managed to avoid production disruptions, a feat that Automotive News called “remarkable” in August 2006. Then-President Juichiro “Jim” Takada was halfway through a decade-long period in which his company made airbags for now-recalled cars when the top U.S. auto safety regulator presented him with an award in 2005 for improving auto safety. “We cannot speak to a recognition provided a decade ago,” Brian Farber, a Transportation Department spokesman, said of the award in an email. “Today we continue to aggressively investigate this faulty airbag and will leave no stone unturned in the name of public safety.” While Takata may not be a household name outside of Japan, it shares roots with Toyota, the world’s largest automaker.

At a New Year’s party thrown by Honda in 1985, Takada said he wanted his company to stay out of airbags, Kobayashi wrote in his memoirs published in 2012. “If anything happens to the airbags, Takata will go bankrupt,” Takada said, according to Kobayashi’s book. “We can’t cross a bridge as dangerous as this.” Already in the midst of battling internal resistance to air bags within Honda, Kobayashi kept pressing. The go-ahead within Honda came in 1986, when Kobayashi convinced then-President Tadashi Kume that air bags, with their “one in a million” defect rates, would enhance the automaker’s reliability, Kobayashi wrote. Honda spokeswoman Akemi Ando said she would check on Kobayashi’s account of the company’s history and said the automaker doesn’t approve new technology unless it’s safe. Going forward, the task of protecting the legacy of his family’s 81-year-old dynasty falls to Shigehisa Takada, grandson of Takezo and son of Juichiro, who died in Tokyo in February 2011 at the age of 74.

Shigehisa, 48, ceded the role of president last April after six years on the job, a month after Toyota, Honda and Nissan called back a combined 3 million vehicles because of defective Takata airbags. I think Takata’s management may have underestimated the fallout.” With assistance from Rawnna Low in Hong Kong; Jeff Green in Southfield, Mich.; Masatsugu Horie in Osaka, Japan; Hideki Asai in Tokyo and Jeff Plungis in Washington

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