NYT: Takata Buried The Negative Results Of Secret In-House Testing

Jack Baruth
by Jack Baruth

According to the New York Times, a group of former Takata workers has come forward with materials that indicate that Takata performed secret tests in 2004 on junkyard airbags. Those tests demonstrated a clear risk of driver injury and preparations were made for a recall. Then the management stepped in.

The article alleges that

But instead of alerting federal safety regulators to the possible danger, Takata executives discounted the results and ordered the lab technicians to delete the testing data from their computers and dispose of the airbag inflaters in the trash…

It gets worse.

internal documents suggest Takata engineers scrambled as late as 2009 to repair a machine at its Monclova plant that pressed explosive propellant powder into pellets after “inflaters tested from multiple propellant lots showed aggressive ballistics,”… “It makes me sick.”

Credit should be given to the NYT for putting this information forward, even if it is in the service of the American government-media-automotive complex and its need to have attention diverted from the GM ignition switch fiasco. Credit should also be given to the Takata engineers who are speaking up, even if they waited ten years to do so.

In light of this newest information, it seems difficult to believe that the US Government will take any action less than a Mortal-Kombat-style “fatality” move regarding Takata. The company has committed two sins. First, they knowingly endangered the lives of millions of people. More importantly, they are not a bank or an insurance company or a Big Three automaker. They aren’t “too big to fail”, which means they aren’t too heavy to hang from the nearest tree. In this case, the politically necessary thing to do is also made remarkably easy by the expendable nature of OEM suppliers.

What if it had been Honda itself that made the airbags? What would the senators from Ohio and Indiana and Alabama and California have to say about any proposed punishment? Luckily Takata is a supplier. Suppliers are like insurgents, you know?

Video contains NSFW language. NSFW! DO NOT LISTEN AT WORK!!!!!

Takata is likely to find itself in the position of being the “insurgents” here.

Jack Baruth
Jack Baruth

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  • Ronnie Schreiber Ronnie Schreiber on Nov 07, 2014

    Am I the only person more troubled by failures of quality control procedures two generations after Demming than I'm bothered by human corruption and coverups?

  • Ronnie Schreiber Ronnie Schreiber on Nov 07, 2014

    When I did my post on Eaton developing the first practical airbags, I found out that the idea was conceived fairly early on but it took decades to develop sensors that worked and inflators that were just powerful enough to fill the bags but not cause injury themselves. It's said that the dose makes the poison. I suppose the same is true of explosives.

  • SaulTigh When I was young in the late 80's one of my friends had the "cool dad." You know the guy, first to buy a Betamax and a C-band satellite dish. Couple of stand up arcade games in the den. Bought my friend an Atari 2600 as soon as they came out. He had two of these crap heaps. One that only ran half the time and one for parts in the yard. My middle school brain though he was the most awesome dad ever, buying us pizza and letting us watch R rated movies recorded on free HBO weekend. At the time I though he was much better than my boring father.Now with adult hindsight, I now know he was "dad who should have taken better care of his family" and not had so many toys.
  • Dave Has to be Indy 500. Many more leaders and front passes than NASCAR, and Monaco is unwatchable with the inability to pass on that circuit.
  • Jeff How did the discussion get from an article about a 56 billion dollar pay package for Elon Musk to a proposal to charge a per mile tax on EVs in California or paying increase registration on vehicles to make up for lost gas tax revenue? I thought such a discussion would better fit Matt's Gas Wars series.
  • Master Baiter Both people who bought ID.4s will be interested in this post.
  • Urlik Not a single memorable thing happened in the big three races this weekend IMHO.