The Car and Truck Fleet and Leasing Management Magazine

Senate Hearing to Examine Air Bag Recalls

November 15, 2014

Screen capture image by Nightly Business Report/CNBC via YouTube.
Screen capture image by Nightly Business Report/CNBC via YouTube.
Takata’s defective air bag inflators and the resulting vehicle recall process will be the subject of a U.S. Senate committee hearing on Thursday, Nov. 20, at 10 a.m. EST.

The Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation will conduct the hearing. Topics will include the response from Takata, automakers and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

The recalls have involved 10 automakers and approximately 7.8 million vehicles in the U.S. The defective air bag inflators can rupture and send metal fragments flying at vehicle occupants. Four deaths in the U.S., as well as the death of a pregnant woman in Malaysia, have been linked to the problem.

In a regulatory filing on Nov. 13, Takata Corp. disclosed it was served a subpoena from a federal grand jury in the Southern District of New York. The subpoena is for documents related to the air bags.

NHTSA is also investigating whether further recalls should be launched to replace Takata’s air bag inflators.

Meanwhile, Takata continues to dispute a New York Times article in which two former employees allege that the company secretly conducted air bag tests in Michigan in 2004 and hid results from NHTSA.

In a lengthy rebuttal statement provided to the Times, Takata said the company’s air bag tests in Michigan in 2004 were conducted for an entirely different purpose – to address a cushion-tearing issue that had nothing to do with inflator rupturing.

The company shared these test results with both Honda and NHTSA, Takata said. The company added it did test air bags for rupturing risk, but that occurred in 2007 and those results were also delivered to both Honda and NHTSA.

A Nov. 12 article in the New York Times details the discrepancies between Takata’s account of the events and that of the former employees. To read the article, click here.  

Takata Corp., headquartered in Tokyo, began manufacturing vehicle safety equipment back in the 1950s. The corporation operates 56 plants in 20 countries. The American subsidiary is TK Holdings, based in Auburn Hills, Mich.

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