As the Takata airbag scandal started picking up steam, at least one explosion event went unreported by the manufacturing giant. It occurred in Switzerland in 2003 and, according to Takata’s own records, was never reported to the United States National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
The claim may seem outrageous at first glance, but is just one part of a long string of deceptions perpetrated by a company that knowingly placed defective hardware in 100 million cars and, as a result, is responsible for a growing number of horrific and gruesome deaths. In fact, as evidence of a problem grew, the company actively moved to manipulate that data to lessen its severity and impact.
The revelations come as a Takata airbag kills yet another driver. A 50-year old woman was killed outside of Los Angeles, California in late October when the airbag in her 2001 Honda Civic failed to deploy properly. The vehicle had been recalled in 2008, but no recall work had ever been performed.
Nearly one in seven cars on an American roadway is affected by the Takata airbag recall; representing 70 million of the 100 million recalled vehicles worldwide. A logistical nightmare to be sure, the scandal has also rocked Takata to its core financially and cost its founding family their position at the helm. CEO Shigehisa Takada announced his intention to resign during the summer of 2016. Japanese auto industry analyst Koji Endo summed up the Board’s views in a New York Times interview when he said that “nobody wants to see anybody from the Takada family in charge at this point. The Takada family, practically speaking, is being kicked out.” The family had run the company for over 80 years prior.
As the company explores its next move, it is also courting buyers as it tries to avoid complete insolvency. However, with bankruptcy constantly looming, regulators moved quickly to ensure that should Takata dissolve, consumers will still have an avenue to having their vehicle’s repaired. Likely to the chagrin of the auto industry, the head of the NHTSA placed the burden of replacing faulty airbags squarely on the shoulders of the manufacturers themselves.