Internal reports released on Friday, September 23, provide evidence that Takata knew of airbag defects since 2003. This claim is supported by an incident in Switzerland that involved a ruptured Takata airbag in 2003, as reported in the release.
The report detailed the company’s response and handling of problems regarding their airbag inflators since they were first produced in 2000. In one event, reported by Reuters, Takata did not inform the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) of the incident in Switzerland in Takata’s 2010 report. This is because, according to the report, the airbag inflator involved in the incident was not produced during the period being addressed in the 2010 NHTSA report. Furthermore, Takata allegedly made production changes in 2003 to fix the problem.
Takata Spokesman Jared Levy stated “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.” and also noted that the internal report was required by the NHTSA in its settlement agreement.
Additional reports released with Takata’s internal report include one from Germany’s Fraunhofer Group. The report by Fraunhofer showed that prolonged exposure to moisture and heat could make the propellant used in Takata’s airbag inflators volatile.
Honda, once Takata’s largest buyer, claims that the test results regarding airbags given to the company were “manipulated” in “several instances.” Honda has investigated Takata’s tests on inflators installed in recalled Honda and Acura vehicles in the US, and said that it is also gathering data on Takata tests from outside regions. Honda has since been using outside suppliers to provide airbags in newer Honda and Acura models and has stopped buying from Takata.
Takata has currently settled nearly $200 million with the NHTSA on the grounds of providing “selective, incomplete data” since 2009. Takata has stated that in precaution it was investigating the safety of inflators which contain a specific moisture-absorbing agent which have been a part of any recent recalls.