Honda Motor, the third largest Japanese automaker, has asked Exponent, a US-based engineering consulting company, to probe the root cause of Takata-produced airbag inflators that can explode with too much force.
Exponent is the engineering firm that larger Japanese rival Toyota Motor Corp. also hired back in 2010, when the largest automaker in the world was also engulfed in a massive safety scandal – the well-known unintended acceleration debacle. Honda is Takata Corp.’s largest client and as such a large part of the recalls have involved the company’s vehicles. In recent years (but mostly in the US and in 2013 and 2014), the auto safety parts supplier Takata Corp issued recalls covering millions of autos from ten automakers because some of its airbags were prone to rupture upon deployment. The inflators exploded with too much force, sending shrapnel and metal debris flying inside the cabin at high velocity. AT least six deaths and dozens of injuries have been tied to the defect, with all fatalities occurring in Honda vehicles.
Now, Honda has tapped the Exponent engineering company to investigate the root cause of the flaw – which hasn’t been identified yet despite numerous efforts from carmakers, Takata and regulators across the globe. The decision was first reported on Monday by Japan’s Jiji News and later acknowledged by a Honda official. Additionally, a consortium of 10 automakers led by Toyota (including Honda) has also asked engineering firm Orbital ATK to independently assess Takata’s airbag inflators. Around 25 million vehicles have been recalled in relation to the issue since 2008.