Takata Chairman In Hiding, Mexican Plant Increasing Airbag Production

Cameron Aubernon
by Cameron Aubernon
takata chairman in hiding mexican plant increasing airbag production

Takata’s chairman goes missing amid the company’s airbag recall crisis; the company boosts production of replacement modules at its Mexico plant; and the United States Senate plans to hold hearings regarding the airbag recalls, while also demanding a full reform of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration over the agency’s role in both Takata’s and General Motors’ respective recalls.

Autoblog reports Takata chairman and CEO Shigesha Takada — whose grandfather founded the company he currently helms — has not been seen since June of this year, giving only a published statement that Takata would work with authorities regarding the defective airbags. Takada won’t be turning up anytime soon, either; the company plans to send COO and president Stefan Stocker to an upcoming analyst briefing in place of the missing chair.

South of the border, Automotive News reports the supplier is adding two new production lines at its Monclova, Mexico facility to help boost supplies of replacement modules. The new lines are expected to go online in January, contributing to the 1.47 million units expected to ship out by February. Takata recently called upon competitors Autoliv and TRW Automotive to help with the production, though that could take months while the suppliers build, test and validate their respective contributions for use by Takata’s client base.

Over in the Beltway, the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation will hold its first Takata hearing next Thursday, which will include testimony by the supplier, Honda and the NHTSA. The supplier also stated that it had received a subpoena from a federal grand jury in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, ordering it to produce documents related to the airbag recalls. This is in addition to the NHTSA’s own request for documents, which must be answered by December 1.

Speaking of the NHTSA, Edmunds reports Sens. Edward Markey of Massachusetts, Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, and Bill Nelson of Florida sent a letter to President Barack Obama on Wednesday, urging him to initiate a full reform of the agency:

NHTSA must alter its practices to require automakers to publicly release more information about accidents that could be caused by safety defects, upgrade its own safety databases, and do a better job of enforcing compliance with transparency measures intended to provide early warnings about potentially danger defects to the public.

The senators are calling for an end to regional recalls in light of the Takata action, citing that affected vehicles could move into and out of regions where high humidity — the condition needed for catastrophic failure to occur — is prevalent, as well as for safety regulators to pull potentially dangerous vehicles “off the road,” such as those affected by the respective recalls by Toyota, General Motors and Takata.

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6 of 26 comments
  • Inside Looking Out Inside Looking Out on Nov 14, 2014

    It is Olympus 2. He might be dead by now, if he had sense of honor.

  • APaGttH APaGttH on Nov 15, 2014

    80 B&B comments on the sexual appeal of Mary Barra and general GM hatred, and one story below Takata, which as this unfolds seems to have used the exact same deny, hid, obfuscate, drag feet tactics as GM, elicits almost no conversation. Never mind that just like a gas pedal jammed into a floor mat, the average driver should be able to handle an engine stall with loss of power - which happens every single day for reasons far beyond low torque resistance on an ignition switch. You can't prepare or account for shrapnel blowing into your face from an airbag during an accident. No amount of "mad skilz" and damn I'm better than that driver is going to protect you. Oh, and TTAC has the audacity to suggest that the GM story is being ignored. Just....wow.

    • See 3 previous
    • Inside Looking Out Inside Looking Out on Nov 16, 2014

      @pragmatist But it is a Japanese company - how they can be possibly wrong? It is Congress treating foreign companies unfairly and stupid 'murican drivers - they should never get into accident and should never invaded into Iraq.

  • Cprescott It is ugly enough. But why? You refuse to build enough of your products for your consumers.
  • Cprescott Only if your income also gives you more votes.
  • MrIcky It's always nice to see a car guy put in charge of cars instead of an accountant. I wish him well and look forward to some entertaining reveals. I think he and Gilles may be the only industry people that I actually enjoy listening to.
  • Master Baiter It doesn't matter whether autonomous vehicles are better or worse drivers than humans. Companies with deep pockets will find themselves sued over incidents like this. Enough lawsuits and the whole business plan collapses. Cheaper to just put a human behind the wheel.
  • MaintenanceCosts How many dogs are wiped out by human drivers annually?Which type of driver wipes out more dogs per mile? Per trip?Without some context there's not much information here.