Recent developments are showing that Takata Corp.’s carmaker-customers as well as the United States the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration are losing confidence over the Japanese supplier’s ability to solve the current faulty airbag inflator recall crisis.
Takata has said it was still trying to sort out the root cause of the defect and has rejected calls from the NHTSA to expand the regional recalls into a national one. Likewise, Takata has been giving next to no information about the progress of the steps it was taking.
In fact, the supplier’s top executives have avoided making public appearances in Japan. Just within 24 hours after informing the NHTSA on Dec. 2 that it would reject demands for nationwide recall of its driver-side airbags, the agency and customers as well as rival suppliers announced to take some actions.
For instance, NHTSA Deputy Administrator David Friedman said hearings would be held to force Takata to declare that its airbag inflator is defective, a move that would prompt a nationwide recall – although the supplier said he has no power to do so.
Likewise, Honda Motor Co. has announced a nationwide recall to fix its driver-side airbags – although Takata has said that it isn't necessary. Also, Toyota is planning to tap an independent engineering firm to test Takata's inflators – despite a vow from Takata to quadruple its daily test rate.
A rival company, Swedish company Autoliv, announced that it will build some replacement inflators for Honda, despite Takata’s move to have two more production lines at its Monclova site in Mexico.
In an e-mailed statement to Automotive News on Dec. 5, Takata spokesman Alby Berman said the company would cooperate with Autoliv and other suppliers for the production of replacement inflators.
In late November, NHTSA gave Takata until December 2 to declare that its airbag inflators are defective and issue a national recall. Should Takata fails to heed the order, NHTSA could impose up to $7,000 per vehicle in fines against the Japanese supplier while forcing the Japanese company to issue a recall.
According to a report by Nikkei, Takata was already in final preparations to expand the recall from a regional one to a national event. Takata has refused to heed requests to a nationwide recall as it could divert replacement parts away from the where they are needed the most.
In the past few years, around 10 carmakers have called back around 16 million vehicles with the Takata airbags, which has been linked to five deaths.