Representatives of Takata Corp., the Japanese maker of millions of potentially faulty airbags, faced tough questions from lawmakers at a Senate hearing on the airbags today. CCTV America’s Jim Spellman reported this from Washington D.C.
US Congress questions Japanese air bag maker on defective productsRepresentatives of Takata Corp., the Japanese maker of millions of potentially faulty airbags, faced tough questions from lawmakers at a Senate hearing on the airbags today. CCTV America’s Jim Spellman reported this from Washington D.C.
Takata airbags have been linked to four deaths and over 100 injuries in the United States.
It’s believed that the airbags become faulty when moisture enters the metal canisters housing the propellants that inflate the airbag. The propellants are essentially small explosive charges. Over time, moisture makes the propellant more powerful and erratic so that when the air bag deploys in a crash, the canister holding can come apart sending shards of metal into the passenger or driver.
Stephanie Erdman said she was hurt last year in a car accident due to a faulty airbag in her 2002 Honda vehicle that sent shards of metal into her face.
“I was instantly blinded on my right side. I felt gushing blood running down my neck. I was terrified,” she testified. “My vision will never be the same. I’ll never be the same.”
The air bags could be in up to 7.8 million cars in the United States, made by 10 manufacturers between 2002-2008. Recalls have begun in humid regions of the U.S., but were expanded to the entire country earlier this week after the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHSTA) pressed for action.
Takata Corp. said it is working to correct the problem.
“Our sincerest condolences go out to all those who have suffered in these accidents and the families. Takata is working closely with automakers and NHSTA to support the ongoing recalls,” the company said.
However, there are not enough replacement parts available for all affected cars in the U.S. and it could take two to three years for Takata to make new airbags, based on the company’s reported rate of production.
Also Thursday, Hiroshi Shimizu, Takata’s head of quality, said the Japanese parts supplier is “deeply sorry and anguished” about each instance of air bag inflators not performing as designed. He said the company accepts responsibility for three deaths, but two others are under investigation.
At every turn, senators were stymied by what they considered evasive answers from Takata, Honda, and Chrysler executives. And they suggested a cover-up by Takata, which reportedly conducted secret tests of the air bags in 2004.
Story compiled with information from AP reports.
Brian Moody of AutoTrader discusses investigation of auto maker Takata Corp
For more about the air bag defects, CCTV America’s Michelle Makori interviewed Brian Moody, site editor of AutoTrader.com.