By on December 3, 2014

Toyota WiLL Cypha

Takata won’t be conducting a nationwide recall of its defective airbags anytime soon, but did hire three former U.S. Transportation Secretaries to help the supplier manage the crisis. Meanwhile, an airbag in an non-recalled model explodes in a Japanese junkyard; the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration won’t push for a nationwide passenger airbag recall; and Toyota and Honda both call for an industry review of Takata’s wares.

The Detroit News reports the supplier informed the NHTSA Wednesday morning that it will not conduct a nationwide recall of vehicles in the United States equipped with driver-side airbags, as requested by the agency in a special order made last week, and whose deadline was December 2. Deputy administrator David Friedman expressed the agency’s disappointment in a statement, lamenting Takata is failing to live up to its responsibility toward keeping drivers safe. Chair and CEO Shigehisa Takada proclaimed in his own statement that his company “remains committed to cooperating closely with our customers and NHTSA to address the potential for inflator rupturing.” An initial decision and public hearing demanding the supplier to recall is the next step for the NHTSA.

Detroit Free Press says Takata called upon former Transportation Secretaries Sam Skinner (George H.W. Bush), Rodney Slater (Bill Clinton) and Norman Mineta (Clinton, George W. Bush) to help guide it through the crisis. Skinner is slated to lead a quality assurance panel to help the supplier better design its airbags, while Slater and Mineta will provide counsel to help it “regain the public’s trust.”

Though the NHTSA is pushing for Takata to recall every driver-side airbag possibly affected by the quality issues at the center of the current regional recall, Automotive News says the agency isn’t in a hurry to do the same for passenger-side airbags. Friedman informed the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing and Trade in a written statement that such a recall “is not supported by the data as we now understand it. At this point, a national recall of all Takata air bags would divert replacement air bags from areas where they are clearly needed, putting lives at risk.” That said, if the supplier’s test data proves otherwise, the agency may demand a recall for those airbags, as well.

Over in Japan, a Takata airbag exploded in a 2003 Toyota WiLL Cypha at the Chikamatsu Shokai Co. scrapyard in the Gifu prefecture. Manager Akihiro Wakayama was caught off-guard by the explosion, as the car in question was not among the models already under recall:

I was surprised once again because the unusual explosion occurred in a vehicle that we were told to be safe. That made me think we really don’t know what we can trust to do our work safely.

The WiLL Cypha’s airbag detonation marks the seventh occurrence of junkyard detonations in Japan since June 2012, with the first six occurring among four Honda Fit and two Toyota Corolla models in July of that year. The incidences prior to the Cypha’s — all occurring during detonation procedures as prescribed by the nation’s Automotive Recycling Law prior to scrapping — led to an additional 3 million units being recalled globally.

Speaking of Toyota and Honda, The Detroit News says the two Japanese automakers are calling for a coordinated effort among the entire industry to independently test Takata’s airbags for defects. Both companies issued separate statements to Takata and eight other manufacturers — including Ford, Chrysler and General Motors — asking them to commit to the effort. Ford said it would heed Toyota’s call, with Chrysler Group proclaiming it would “remain committed to identifying the root cause” of the malfunctions, and GM taking the call “under NHTSA guidance.”

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34 Comments on “Takata Refuses NHTSA Call For Nationwide Airbag Recall...”


  • avatar
    petezeiss

    Remember the Wild and Crazy Guys from SNL 1.0? Where were they supposedly from?

    Because that’s where the green car in the photo was designed. As a Soul fighter.

  • avatar
    Sjalabais

    I don’t understand why Takata is blocking the issue without being forced to recall those airbags. The exact same issue has led to recalls elsewhere, so how could this denial possibly hold up in court?

    My ’02 Honda has had its airbag replaced due to a recall years ago, this in Europe.

    • 0 avatar
      thegamper

      I think Takata is blocking the issue because the are already having great difficulty dealing with the initial scope of the recall. This massive expansion to all states and even potentially passenger airbags in the future could really spell financial ruin for Takata. The scope of the recalls is becoming impossibly huge for the supplier.

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        Yup, it’s all about who pays for the majority of the costs. If the car brands step up, Takata doesn’t have to foot the whole bill.

        • 0 avatar
          akatsuki

          Well the reality is they will have to. The lawsuits alone will name them both.

          The Japanese government should step in to help them frankly because this is going to stain the Japanese car industry if it blows up any more. If I was Lexus/Acura/Infiniti, I would be replacing them all as a matter of service if nothing else.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            Of those, Infiniti has the most to worry about.

            Infiniti: 2001–2004 Infiniti I30/I35; 2002–2003 Infiniti QX4; 2003–2005 Infiniti FX35/FX45; 2006 Infiniti M35/M45

            Acura: 2002–2003 CL and TL; 2003–2006 MDX; 2005 RL

            Lexus: 2002–2005 SC430

            That being said, I’ve seen the steering wheel in the SC, and it’s the exact same one used in the GS model of that era. So I don’t see how the GS would have different airbags, when both cars were made in the same place in Japan.

      • 0 avatar
        ect

        I don’t understand why the current recall only applies to 5-6 states. Surely the cars in which the airbags concerned were installed were sold in most, if not all, states.

    • 0 avatar
      PandaBear

      “That being said, I’ve seen the steering wheel in the SC, and it’s the exact same one used in the GS model of that era. So I don’t see how the GS would have different airbags, when both cars were made in the same place in Japan.”

      Airbag needs to adjust for cabin size and vehicle weight to be effective, so it is unlikely that they have the IDENTICAL airbag canister.

      Heck, even my car has different air bag canister model number from different model years when there is no change in the car at all.

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        Good point, didn’t think about that. The SC is a considerably smaller place inside than that GS.

      • 0 avatar

        Right. Consider, that GM, at one point, used the same basic three-spoke steering wheel in the Cobalt, G5, Malibu, Vue, Aura, Sky, Solstice, G6, Corvette, HHR, Torrent…and probably something else that I’m forgetting. There’s no way that all of those cars used the same airbag even though the airbag cover was the same, and the only thing that changed was the badge (between brands). Quite honestly, the airbag cover and steering wheel are irrelevant to the specific airbag. As long as the splits open when the airbag explodes behind it, you’re good.

    • 0 avatar
      PandaBear

      Even if the auto makers pay for the recall, they would have no production capacity to make so many airbags at the same time. It would be legally wrong to tell people to drive them until they can make the airbag, so they just decline to recall for now so they can buy time.

  • avatar
    schmitt trigger

    GM must be full of schadenfreude, realizing that their ignition switch recall has been relegated to a lower public attention level.
    All of these, thanks to “infallible” Japanese companies.

    Speaking of infallible companies, I recommend reading the following article:
    When G.M was Google
    http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2014/12/01/g-m-google

    • 0 avatar
      Syke

      Gee, it only took three comments for someone to bring up “GM”. Despite the fact that General Motors had absolutely nothing to do with this problem.

      Guess we don’t dare take a chance that some other company could beat out GM for worst possible products.

    • 0 avatar
      APaGttH

      I doubt it, and lets look at the last high profile mass recalls of the last 20 years.

      It wouldn’t be completely unreasonable to expect a driver of average skill to deal with a blown out tire. However Ford and Firestone got nailed to the wall over it.

      It wouldn’t be completely unreasonable to expect a driver of average skill to figure out an entrapped gas pedal and deal with the issue. However Toyota got nailed to the wall over it.

      It wouldn’t be completely unreasonable to expect a driver of average skill to figure out how to deal with an engine stall out and the loss of power steering*. However General Motors is getting nailed to the wall over it.

      There is no way you can slice it or dice it. It doesn’t matter how good of a driver you are, no one can anticipate driving around with a M18 Claymore mine mounted in the dashboard facing the occupants of a car that may save you in a crash, or may actually kill you.

      Further, these Claymore mines pretending to be airbags are found in at least eight manufacturers cars going back as far as 13 model years and sold around the world. It impacts potentially more vehicles that rolling over Ford Explorers, acceleration happy Toyotas, and failing ignition switches in GM products combined.

      * You don’t lose power brakes on an engine stall out. You have two to three good long, normal presses of the brake pedal with the pressure still built up in the master cylinder before pedal effort becomes more difficult.

      • 0 avatar
        Syke

        Of course, I’m sitting here giggling. Given our society’s current mania for safety, safety, safety, please God don’t make me have to take any kind of risk . . . . .

        Well, you wanted safety? You wanted safety legislated? You got it.

        Now deal with it.

        • 0 avatar
          petezeiss

          We haven’t *begun* to legislate against risk!

          For instance, I demand a law to prevent guys in tank tops sitting their smelly, sweaty asses down next to me on airplanes, in theaters, crowded waiting rooms…etc.

          I want that legislated! It’s farking gross!

      • 0 avatar
        jpolicke

        APaGttH, completely agree with your well-argued reasoning. The airbag is the one situation a driver can’t control for without possibly breaking the law by disabling.

        It’s disgusting to see former officials who would have been responsible for overseeing an issue like this when they were in office whore themselves out like this. Anything for a buck.

        • 0 avatar
          APaGttH

          What I find disgusting is the pitchforks outside of the RenCen when the exact same people calling for GM death are silent, literally silent over this airbag issue.

          It smacks of hypocricy.

          Yes, I called for Toyota’s head on a plate.

          And I haven’t defended GM and their inexcusable non-handling and over up over ignition switches.

          The Takata issue is worse for a number of issues, and there is the same patterns of deny, delay, cover up, silence, and pay off that Ford, Toyota, GM and by proxy, Honda has employed.

          Takata is basically sticking up two middle fingers to the world auto markets and saying, “you can’t make us do $h1T.”

  • avatar
    SP

    “… during detonation procedures as proscribed by the nation’s Automotive Recycling Law …”

    PROscribed means forbidden. PREscribed means commanded.

  • avatar
    xtoyota

    I’m a little confused………. is it only the front airbags or ALL bags in affected cars ???????

  • avatar
    sirwired

    I guess Takata didn’t get the memo (or didn’t believe memos from the U.S. office) that NHTSA “requests” for a “voluntary” recall are anything but. By the time the NHTSA gets around to publicly calling for such a thing (vs. negotiating in private), they are prepared to go the full way.

    And mandatory recalls end up being downright punitive, because they often end up punishing the company for non-compliance by consumers. (A mandatory recall of some ancient Chrysler minivans went so far as to having teams track down registrations (even expired ones) and tow inoperative vehicles out of backyards, taking them in to replace some rear hatch parts, and returning the derelict to its home, where it would eventually take the nice shiny hatch parts to the crusher and or sit in a pile when the rest of the vehicle had crumbled to rust.)

    • 0 avatar
      SoCalMikester

      reminds me of the story i heard years and years ago about VW heater cores… sending reps to junkyards to destroy the old cores and leave new cores in OEM boxes right there on the floorboard.

      urban legend?

  • avatar
    bunkie

    I know that seems extreme, but there’s no guarantee that that seemingly dead vehicle wouldn’t be put back into service. After all, why keep it if there was no intention (however small or misguided) of ever doing so?

  • avatar
    50merc

    The recall doesn’t include the state of Washington. Isn’t it kinda humid around Seattle?

    You know, some clever entrepreneur should market a “Death Wish Special”. It’d be a supercharged Audi 5000 outfitted with a GM ignition switch, Ford shifter pawl, Pinto gas tank, early Corvair rear suspension, underinflated Firestone tires, and Takata air bag. Buyers would be instructed to take it through a car wash three times a day.

  • avatar
    Beachbunny

    Gotta love it. I remember a time when air bags were supposedly to protect people from injuries… We’ve since proven they’re hazardous to children, small adults, elderly, adults with medical conditions, and now you have Russian roulette of whether your airbag will kill you with shrapnel or not.

    I also find the details of the recall very disturbing. I highly doubt Infiniti used different-manufacturer airbags for cars made in the years in question which are NOT part of the recall.

    Maybe Takata/the manufacturers should just give us all bulletproof vests until they can come up with a proper fix. Don’t diss the idea — they’ve proven similar vests will protect people with osteoporosis in car accidents, no reason to believe it wouldn’t work for the rest of us.

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