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Takata failed to report 2003 air bag rupture to NHTSA

Saturday, September 24, 2016 - 08:51
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Japanese air bag supplier Takata Corp said it failed to inform the US auto safety agency of a 2003 rupture of one of its air bag inflators in Switzerland, according to an internal Takata report released by U.S. regulators on Friday.

[WASHINGTON] Japanese air bag supplier Takata Corp said it failed to inform the US auto safety agency of a 2003 rupture of one of its air bag inflators in Switzerland, according to an internal Takata report released by U.S. regulators on Friday.

Takata also said in the report that its US arm, not the parent company, was largely responsible for designing, testing and producing tens of millions of defective air bag inflators. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) released a series of reports into Takata's defective air bag inflators, which have been linked to at least 14 deaths and more than 100 injuries and sparked the largest-ever auto recall.

About 100 million Takata air bag inflators have been declared defective worldwide. In the United States, nearly 70 million inflators have been declared defective.

The internal Takata internal report released on Friday examined the Japanese company's handling of the problems since the inflators were first produced in 2000 as well as outside experts' analysis of the defect.

In one event detailed in the report, Takata said it did not inform the NHTSA when it learned in 2003 of the rupture of an inflator in Switzerland.

A US engineer at Takata asked if that incident should have been disclosed to the NHTSA in 2010, but it was not. Reuters reported on the 2003 incident in December 2014.

Takata said in its report it opted not to disclose the incident because the inflator was not made during the production period addressed in its 2010 response to the NHTSA. The report said the 2003 incident was the result of the Takata inflator being overloaded. Takata made production changes to address the problem in 2003.

Takata spokesman Jared Levy said on Friday the report was required by NHTSA as part of the company's settlement announced in November. "Takata has focused extensive resources on researching and testing of airbag inflators, including working with independent, world class, technical experts to identify the causes of the inflator failures," he said.

In November 2015, Takata agreed to a settlement that included a fine of up to US$200 million with NHTSA, which said Takata provided "selective, incomplete or inaccurate data" from 2009 to the present. Honda Motor Co said at the time it was"deeply troubled" by evidence suggesting Takata "misrepresented and manipulated test data for certain air bag inflators."

Honda was Takata's largest air-bag customer.

Shares in Takata fell this week after Bloomberg reported that initial bidders in a potential rescue are considering the possibility of some form of bankruptcy proceedings for the company.

People with direct knowledge of the bidding process told Reuters in late August that Takata would take initial bids from potential rescuers, including Japanese chemical maker Daicel Corp, China's Ningbo Joyson Electronic and global funds KKR & Co and Bain Capital.

REUTERS

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