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.

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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.

  • ToolGuy CXXVIII comments?!?
  • ToolGuy I did truck things with my truck this past week, twenty-odd miles from home (farther than usual). Recall that the interior bed space of my (modified) truck is 98" x 74". On the ride home yesterday the bed carried a 20 foot extension ladder (10 feet long, flagged 14 inches past the rear bumper), two other ladders, a smallish air compressor, a largish shop vac, three large bins, some materials, some scrap, and a slew of tool cases/bags. It was pretty full, is what I'm saying.The range of the Cybertruck would have been just fine. Nothing I carried had any substantial weight to it, in truck terms. The frunk would have been extremely useful (lock the tool cases there, out of the way of the Bed Stuff, away from prying eyes and grasping fingers -- you say I can charge my cordless tools there? bonus). Stainless steel plus no paint is a plus.Apparently the Cybertruck bed will be 78" long (but over 96" with the tailgate folded down) and 60-65" wide. And then Tesla promises "100 cubic feet of exterior, lockable storage — including the under-bed, frunk and sail pillars." Underbed storage requires the bed to be clear of other stuff, but bottom line everything would have fit, especially when we consider the second row of seats (tools and some materials out of the weather).Some days I was hauling mostly air on one leg of the trip. There were several store runs involved, some for 8-foot stock. One day I bummed a ride in a Roush Mustang. Three separate times other drivers tried to run into my truck (stainless steel panels, yes please). The fuel savings would be large enough for me to notice and to care.TL;DR: This truck would work for me, as a truck. Sample size = 1.
  • Art Vandelay Dodge should bring this back. They could sell it as the classic classic classic model
  • Surferjoe Still have a 2013 RDX, naturally aspirated V6, just can't get behind a 4 banger turbo.Also gloriously absent, ESS, lane departure warnings, etc.
  • ToolGuy Is it a genuine Top Hand? Oh, I forgot, I don't care. 🙂