Former employees of Japanese airbag manufacturer Takata have come forward to reveal the company knew about potentially dangerous defects a decade ago, but covered up the problem. Four people have allegedly been killed by the defective airbags.
In 2004, Takata received a report that one of its airbags had malfunctioned in the United States, where an Alabama driver had been showered with metal shrapnel. Following that news, Takata began conducting secret tests off-hours, including weekends and holidays, according to the New York Times.
The testing revealed that steel inflaters in the airbags could crack and result in a rupture that has the potential to produce the sharp shards of metal. Executives for the company reportedly chose to ignore the results, and told workers to dispose of the defective inflaters and erase test data from computers. It wasn’t until 2008, four years after the secret tests, that the first airbag recalls were issued.
The Inquisitr previously reported on the expanding recall of the dangerous Takata airbags. By late October this year, the recall had encompassed 7.8 million vehicles produced by ten car makers, including BMW, Chrysler, Ford, GM, Honda, Mazda, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Subaru, and Toyota. Now the recall includes 11 car companies, and the number of affected automobiles has swelled to over 14 million vehicles worldwide. The Center For Auto Safety predicted the recall could expand to over 25 million vehicles.
Yoichiro Nomura, Takata’s chief financial officer, said the following during a Tokyo news conference.
“The repeated recalls of cars fitted with our airbags have brought great inconvenience and concern to the cars’ drivers, automakers, shareholders and others, and for that, we offer our heartfelt apologies.”
The latest death in connection with a Takata airbag occurred in Los Angeles in 2013. A man was found dead in his 2002 Acura, after an accident in a parking lot. Authorities initially thought the man was a homicide victim, upon first inspection of his wounds. An autopsy later determined the true source of his fatal injuries. CNN Money reported that all four airbag deaths have occurred in vehicles produced by Honda.
Takata issued a statement claiming that as a result of the airbag recall, it expects to lose $218 million by the end of the current fiscal year, according to Bloomberg.
What do you think of the possibility that Takata covered up the airbag defect for 10 years? Have you or anyone you know been affected by the recall?
[Images via wn.com and businessweek.com]