Report: Honda Engineers Berated Takata Before Scandal Erupted

Aaron Cole
by Aaron Cole

Bloomberg ( via Automotive News) reported that engineers at Honda demanded to know why Takata airbags were injuring drivers and passengers during a 2009 meeting held four months before investigators started their inquiry.

“Why does it explode? I want to know the truth,” an engineer identified as “Otaka” asked Takata’s CEO at the meeting, according to Bloomberg.

Minutes from a July 2009 meeting between Honda executives and Takata officials were made public as part of a lawsuit against the airbag maker.

Federal regulators Wednesday identified the ninth fatality linked to the defective airbags, which could burst so violently that they could spray metal shards into the passenger cabin. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration officials said the victim was a minor driving a 2001 Honda Accord near Pittsburgh in July, according to USA Today.

The teen was hospitalized and died several days after the crash, according to investigators.

Honda was Takata’s largest customer and owned 1.2 percent of the auto supplier when investigators began examining the defective airbags, according to Bloomberg.

In 2009, when the companies met outside Los Angeles, engineers at Honda accused Takata officials of being too slow to act and not treating the situation seriously.

The documents were unsealed as part of a Florida woman’s lawsuit against Takata and show that, as far back as 2005, engineers at Takata notified the company of falsified data and the company’s illegal practices.

According to the report, a Takata engineer named Bob Schubert wrote that the company was “prettying up” data about its airbags and that the company was lying about testing: “It has come to my attention that the practice has gone beyond all reasonable bounds and likely constitutes fraud,” he wrote in 2005, according to Bloomberg.

Honda, along with 11 other automakers, are recalling more than 19 million cars — with more than 23 million faulty inflators — in one of the largest recalls in history. NHTSA officials in November fined Takata more than $70 million, which could rise to $200 million if the company can’t fulfill its obligations.

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  • SCE to AUX SCE to AUX on Dec 24, 2015

    Is there any data on how this problem has affected the resale value of affected vehicles, particularly Hondas? The Honda Kool-Aid runs strong with many consumers, so I worry that unsuspecting buyers are picking up used Hondas without asking questions. It's not like your local used car lot (or your Honda dealer, for that matter) really cares about the recall status of that vehicle on the four-square. Even my son's used Sonata - purchased at the Hyundai dealer which serviced it since new - was sold with 4 outstanding recalls. I went somewhere closer to have them dealt with. None of his recalls were this important.

    • See 1 previous
    • Richmich7 Richmich7 on Dec 24, 2015

      I have to correct you. Honda requires every vehicle that comes in for service or traded in to have a VIN check for recalls. Some people are saying that Honda made some people sign waivers when the airbag recall started, but replacements are readily available now. We have to repair a trade in. If a customer comes in for an oil change, and they are not willing to wait for an airbag repair, it is noted on their repair order. Inflators are available to the parts department via normal ordering because Honda is using other suppliers.

  • Sirwired Sirwired on Dec 26, 2015

    Really, at this point the story is more about Honda than Takata. Takata is toast; they have no chance at survival at this point. I mean, if you were at an automaker specifying parts, would YOU touch Takata with a 10-foot pole? It has yet to be determined how much they'll owe in fines, lawsuits, and in payments to automakers, but I expect by this point that eventual number will be way more money than they can collect from their customer base. Their gloomy financial future will deter even MORE customers... on and on into the death spiral. Now Honda? They'll survive this just fine, but it remains to be seen how much all this is going to cost them. When their supplier is gone, they'll be nobody else left to blame (or pay.) This isn't necessarily fair to Honda, as the blame certainly should be shared, but life isn't fair.

  • SPPPP Aggression is pretty much the reason that racing exists, so I am going to call this an unsolvable problem. It's a contrived scenario in which you take risks to get rewards. You may be able to improve it ... but never eliminate it.
  • MaintenanceCosts This is now our fourth 20th Anniversary GTI, and the third of those four that had major structural modifications for purely aesthetic reasons. I didn't picture Tim as the type to want to join the STANCE YO crowd, but here we are?
  • JMII This is why I don't watch NASCAR, it just a crash fest. Normally due the nature of open-wheel cars you don't see such risky behavior during Indy car events. You can't trade paint and bump draft with an Indy car. I thought it was a sad ending for a 500. While everyone wants a green flag finish at some point (3 laps? 5 laps?) red flagging it is just tempting people too much like a reset button in a game.The overall problem is the 500 is not a "normal" race. Many one-off competitors enter it and for almost every driver they are willing to throw away the entire season championship just to win the "500". It sure pays way more then winning the championship. This would be like making a regular season NFL game worth more then the Super Bowl. This encourages risky behavior.I am not sure what the fix is, but Indy's restart procedures have been a mess for years. If I was in charge the rule would be pit speed limiter until the green flag drops at a certain place on the track - like NASCARs restart "zone". Currently the leader can pace the field however they wish and accelerate whenever they choose. This leads to multiple false and jumped starts with no penalty for the behavior. Officals rarely wave off such restarts, but that did happened once on Sunday so they tried to make driver behave. The situation almost didn't happen as there were two strategies in the end with some conserving fuel and running old tires, driving slower with others racing ahead. However the last caution put everyone on even terms so nobody had advantage. It always gets crazy in the last few laps but bunching up the field with a yellow or red flag is just asking for trouble.
  • Tim Healey Lol it's simply that VWVortex is fertile ground for interesting used cars!
  • Jalop1991 I say, install gun racks.Let the games begin!