Automotive airbag manufacturer Takata may have hidden knowledge of airbag defects for over a decade, becoming a fatal issue. In the past few months, 11 different automakers have more than 14 million vehicles in relation to airbag rupture risks. The risks mentioned are caused by the steel canisters in airbags cracking, which can lead to a rupture that throw metal fragments towards passengers and drivers when the device deploys. The recent recalls have been tied to 4 deaths. Takata stated in regulatory filings that it began testing airbags for this issue in November 2008, but former employees of Takata admit to being involved in tests on the same issue in 2004, which Takata never filed.
The steel canisters house a propellant compound commonly found in fertilizer that helps to inflate the airbag when it is triggered. Automakers have received complaints that total in 139 injuries regarding the airbag malfunction, 37 of which reported the airbags rupturing and spewing chemicals or metal fragments. Takata supplies approximately one fifth of all airbags on the global market, and automakers have come forward stating their concerns that Takata is at fault when it comes to their malfunctioning airbags.
Former Employees Come Forward
Former employees of Takata have recently come forward saying that although there were no filings of tests until 2008, tests were performed on the same issue in 2004. The former employees, who combined have more than four decades of experience with the company, were concerned Takata was not releasing all the necessary information to keep drivers safe.
According to the former employees, Takata performed secret tests, which took place after normal business hours and on holidays or weekends in 2004 at the company’s American headquarters in Auburn Mills, MI. During the tests, two of the steel canisters cracked, which can lead to dangerous ruptures. After the test concluded, the employees state that Takata executives discounted the results and ordered lab technicians to delete testing data from their computers.
Spokespersons for automaker Honda said in 2004 they were assured by Takata that an incident with the airbags that had occurred was an anomaly and there was no issue with the airbags. Takata has refused to make a statement on the claims at this point. These recent claims as well as others involving the quality of manufacturing, delivery and Takata’s overall handling of airbag issues has put the company in the forefront of the chaotic recalls happening with automakers.
Automakers and parts manufacturers have a duty to report any and all safety concerns they find with their products. Companies that hide their mistakes like Takata have put others at risk and make themselves responsible when their products cause harm or danger to others.
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