The remaining bidders for the ailing Takata Corporation are insisting on a court-mediated turnaround for the airbag supplier’s operations. Takata is in the midst of selecting a financial backer after incurring billions of dollars in costs to replace tens of millions of defective airbag inflators linked to a minimum of sixteen deaths.
However, Takata has stated it would much prefer an out-of-court process for its operations to ensure the uninterrupted supply of replacement inflators. Keeping the turnaround private also would also be a way for the founding Takata family to avoid the complete obliteration of the company’s share values.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration expanded its investigation into airbags manufactured by ARC Automotive following the July 8 death of a Hyundai driver in Canada.
According to Reuters, an airbag inflator in the vehicle ruptured, fatally injuring the driver. The death is similar to those caused by faulty Takata airbags, and the investigation could add millions of vehicles to an already massive airbag recall list.
Defective airbags linked to at least 10 U.S. deaths are still rolling off dealer lots, despite a massive safety recall.
Four automakers admit to selling new vehicles equipped with faulty Takata airbags, but it’s all legal as long as those cars are fixed within two years. The companies were revealed in a report tabled today by U.S. Senate Commerce Committee Democrats.
The Takata airbag inflator problem illustrates a fine dilemma: quality standards across the auto industry are good, those for safety-critical devices are exceptional. The higher the standards, the more difficult it is to spot, much less address, potential problems. If there are only a handful of “incidents” reflected in accident or warranty reports, it requires luck to spot a correlation. Such reports aren’t necessarily high in quality. So even when there does appear to be a potential issue, small numbers and limited information make tracing the root cause(s) challenging and potentially impossible.
In today’s General Motors digest: The automaker rescinds its stop-sale of 33,000 Chevrolet Cruzes over Takata air bag issues, recalls 29,019; Delphi turns over documents to a federal grand jury; Kenneth Feinberg’s compensation plan will be revealed Monday; and CEO Mary Barra says more recalls may be coming, but no more people will be fired as a result of the Valukas report.