By on December 5, 2014

Shimizu, Takata's Senior Vice President for global quality assurance, testifies before a U.S. House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee hearing in Washington

Takata has yet to find the root cause of the defect affecting its airbags; Autoliv will supply replacements to Honda; and Toyota, Mazda and Chrysler are expanding their recalls.

Reuters reports Takata hasn’t found the cause behind the catastrophic failures in its airbags, per testimony given by safety executive Hiroshi Shimizu before Congress Wednesday. That said, Shimizu said his company was of “the strong opinion that (there) is a factor contributing to this defect: which is high humidity, temperature and the life of the product.” He also claimed the ammonium nitrate used in the airbags was safe and stable, though he admitted replacements weren’t coming fast enough.

Meanwhile, competitor Autoliv announced it would supply replacements to Honda for vehicles in the United States. The automaker had mentioned before Congress it was in talks with the supplier and another, Daicel, regarding expanded production to replace modules in a nationwide recall. Autoliv will add capacity in its existing plants, with deliveries to come after six months.

Among the other affected automakers, Chrysler, Toyota and Mazda have stepped up their individual recall efforts. AutoGuide says the subsidiary of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles has called back 149,150 Dodge Ram 1500, 2500 and 3500 models from the 2003 model year, covering Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Louisiana, Mississippi, Texas, and the U.S. territories of American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, Saipan and the Virgin Islands. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration stated the move wasn’t enough, and is looking at what action to take next.

Over in Japan, Bloomberg reports Toyota is recalling 190,000 affected vehicles in its local market and in China. The recall comes on the news of a catastrophic detonation at a junkyard of a Takata airbag inside a 2003 WiLL Cypha; the detonation was part of the procedures outlined by Japan’s Automobile Recycling Law, which also requires dismantlers to report any problem to the automaker to determine if a recall is necessary.

Finally, The Detroit News says Mazda is recalling 40,000 more vehicles — including the 2003-2007 Mazda6, 2004-2008 RX-8, 2006-2007 Mazdaspeed6, 2004-2005 MPV and 2004 B-Series — in Florida, Hawaii, Mississippi, Louisiana, Georgia, Texas and Alabama. The automaker previously recalled 44,000 units in the U.S. and 2,600 in Puerto Rico.

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17 Comments on “Shimizu: Takata Hasn’t Found The Cause Of Airbag Failures...”

  • avatar

    OMG, they didn’t kill Kennysan, Bastards!

  • avatar

    “a catastrophic detonation at a junkyard”

    Oh, no… there goes To-kee-yo

  • avatar

    Sounds like Takatas’ competition will move in and Takata will cease to exist. Who would install any of their airbags knowing any Takata products are suspect?

  • avatar

    Want to know the problem?

    I’ll tell you.

    Come closer.



    When your engineers told you they were designed wrong you silenced them and destroyed the evidence.

    When studies indicated there were problems you ignored them and the bean counters said they could make it go away.

    When you were concerned enough to do another study, and the evidence clearly showed there was a problem, you buried the evidence and silenced the engineers again.

    The people who actually know what the problem is have either been beaten metaphorically into silence, fired, or quit in disgust.

    The yes men that you surrounded yourself with who can count individual Yen like it’s coming out of their ears don’t have a clue on what the problem is behind the M18 Claymore Mines you sell as airbags are because you silenced, broke, and fired everyone who tried to tell you you have a big problem for the last decade.

  • avatar

    I am getting a replacement for the Wife’s 2006 Pilot. Honda of America sent me an airbag in Canada two weeks after I called them. The car is still registered in Florida but I’ve been in Canada for a while with my job.
    I wonder what brand are they installing…

  • avatar

    I got something in the mail this week which looks like a recall notice. I’ll have my girl read it tomorrow to confirm it’s Takata-related. Considering I live in probably the hottest and most humid region of Japan, I’m pretty keen to eliminate any “frag grenade to the face” risk as quickly as possible.

    • 0 avatar

      So I was right, my 2003 Mark II has a Takata airbag recall. I had my girl call Toyota and they can’t get me into the dealership until….wait for it…..the 21st of January! Over a month?!

      Is this a normal delay time for a recall or just another sign of Takata being Made of Fail?

  • avatar

    This is going to become a business school case study of how not to handle a corporate catastrophe. Add in their rather odd decision to piss on Uncle Sam’s shoes, and one has to wonder what planet these execs are from.

    NHTSA is now forced to dragging them into court, and after they will win (and NHTSA will win), they’ll be rather more than happy to levy the $7k fine per violation on Takata.

    Takata is toast.

    Talk about having something blow up in your face.

    • 0 avatar

      Well, Toyota apologized over a non-existent problem and it was treated as a confession, costing Toyota $billions. Maybe they think “Chuck You Farley” is the legal opposite. Given how rude and pugnacious our society looks to them, they could have easily mistaken a stiff arm as appropriate.

      • 0 avatar

        Jack did a clear write up that Toyota’s situation was not over nothng.

        They dragged their feet, didn’t listen to engineers, copied up to regulators, and delayed action while giving management plausible deniability.

        Go read Jack’s write up.

      • 0 avatar

        I think Lorenzo is right. Japan Inc. learned an important lesson. They’re smarter than Detroit like that. This situation looks like it involves far more blame than the Toyota witch hunt. It would be ironic if Takata skates because Toyota was robbed by the Chicago mob.

  • avatar

    Shimizu-san ask:

    If nobody care about this story, may his face go home now?

  • avatar
    Norman Yarvin

    Uh, “…the ammonium nitrate used in the airbags…”? Isn’t that the problem right there? They used ammonium nitrate, a hygroscopic material. It’s “stable” in the sense that it won’t decompose under normal circumstances; but it absorbs water from the atmosphere and, above a certain humidity, turns itself into a little puddle. Then as it dries out, it recrystallizes into a different form. Presumably they tried to seal water out of the airbags; but seals often fail over time, or are flawed from the start; and lots of materials (like plastic films) which seem impervious to water actually let it slowly diffuse through. Once moisture has gotten in, this process (absorbing water and turning into a liquid, then drying out and recrystallizing) would repeat itself every day, due to the humidity dropping during the day then rising at night. (With a constant amount of moisture present, humidity falls when the temperature rises.)

    In the airbags, they must have mixed the ammonium nitrate with something else, as pure ammonium nitrate is not a suitable propellant. And the exact nature of the mixture must have been important. The more finely divided the material, the faster the boom. The changing shape of the ammonium nitrate must have played havoc with whatever they’d done to control the speed of the boom.

    I don’t know how they could ever have thought this would work. If they didn’t get problems with exploding too fast, they’d have gotten problems with exploding too slow. (And I wouldn’t be surprised if the latter also sometimes turned out to be a problem with these airbags.) But ammonium nitrate is among the cheapest of materials, which is presumably why they tried to make it work.

  • avatar

    Well, you know how everything is bigger and better in Texas? The biggest non nuclear bang ever to happen in the US occurred in Texas and the stuff that made the bang? Ammonium nitrate that someone had wet with steam to try and put it out as it was on fire!

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