Takata has been under considerable fire lately because of the growing controversy over the huge airbag recall. Of course, there will be considerable drama anytime a component in cars that is meant to save lives actually projects shrapnel into occupants, making them look as if they have been slashed by a knife. But now the Japanese parts supplier is firing back at its critics as it looks to play damage control amidst the controversy.
Last week, the New York Times ran a report that stated Takata knew all about the issues with the airbags way back in 2004. The newspaper says that the company conducted off-hours tests in secret to verify the existence of the issue, which made it obvious that the inflators were defective. The New York Times also said that engineers worked out a solution to the safety risk quickly, but without notifying any government regulation bodies. The accusations also include that management directed engineers to destroy everything relating to the problem, only publicly acknowledging a problem four years down the road. Among the reaction to the serious allegations has been two Senators from the United States who are calling for a criminal case to be leveled against Takata.
The parts supplier has released a formal statement this week that calls the accusations made by the New York Times “fundamentally inaccurate.” It goes on to say that the publication has “unfairly impugned the integrity of Takata and its employees.” It said that the tests it conducted on inflators were not done in secret, but were conducted after the NHTSA requested them because of an issue that involved cushions tearing, not shrapnel shooting through the airbags. Takata also stated that it never tried to cover up any test results available to automakers or regulators that would have suggested a problem with the inflators rupturing.
One of the anonymous sources the New York Times used for its piece is saying that Takata is playing spin doctor and not telling the truth. The stakes are high in this situation, so stay tuned for more updates.