“We have found examples of what I would call ‘selective editing,’ where they have left out results not because they were bad results, but because the results that remained were better. We found evidence that the report that went to Honda was a shorter version of the original version, and it was a prettier shortened version.”
With those words, Brian O’Neill, former president of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, revealed that Takata did not present an accurate portrayal of the safety of its airbags to Honda; one of the largest automobile manufacturers on the planet.
According to an article posted to Bloomberg, O’Neill was hired by Takata and Honda to audit Takata’s reporting of airbag safety results. The timing of his hiring, however, lends itself to the assumption that Honda already suspected that manipulation was taking place. Just days after commissioning O’Neill, Honda would announce that they had independently found evidence of data tampering.
Depending on the extent of the manipulation, Honda may be forced to recall even more of its vehicles.
Jared Levy has the unfortunate task of speaking on behalf of the company whose airbag scandal has forced the recall of over 34 million vehicles worldwide, cost hundreds of millions of dollars in lawsuits and fines, cost billions in repairs and replacement, and led to the resignation of the company CEO; thus taking Takata out of family control for the first time in over 80 years.
In an emailed statement, the spokesman says that “Takata has previously acknowledged and deeply regrets issues related to the integrity of Takata’s inflator validation testing and reporting of test results to its customers. These issues are totally incompatible with Takata’s engineering standards and protocols and entirely inexcusable.”
He’s correct – it is entirely inexcusable. In the event they are deployed in a crash, the inflator can explode and send metallic shrapnel spraying into the vehicle’s cabin. This can also occur if it happens to be too hot outside. In the case of a 17-year old Texas high school junior, some of that shrapnel will slice through a victim’s neck; killing them before help can arrive. A minor fender-bender can end your life.
At least 14 others are dead as a result of malfunctioning Takata airbags. One has to wonder if those lives could have been saved had Takata acted on the information presented in its safety reports rather than actively attempting to hide it. Unfortunately, we’ll never know.