According to the findings in this latest report, the Japanese automotive safety company decided to bring to the market an inferior system in order to save a few bucks on each inflator.
A media outlet from the United States embarked in a long and thorough investigation of the story behind Takata’s airbag debacle – a flawed system that has so far been linked to 14 deaths. Back in the 1990s and early 2000s the company’s airbag unit was not financially sane and decided to try and recover its whereabouts by introducing cost-effective measures. One of their solutions included the development of a more affordable airbag inflator by using an ammonium nitrate compound. Takata then poached General Motors – who was suing at the time airbags from Autoliv – offering them their product which was about 30 percent less costly. Savings amounted to a few dollars per each finished product and GM told Autoliv to create a similarly affordable product or lose the contract to the Japanese.
Autoliv then decided to evaluate the competing product but as tests came out they deemed it ‘dangerously volatile’. The told GM it was not possible to manufacture such a product without the safety concerns and the automaker decided to sign a contract with Takata. Years later – this inflator is making the rounds as millions are being recalled and causing problems all over the world. It also appears GM was not the only one warned by Autoliv – Ford, Chrysler, Mitsubishi, Honda, Mazda, and Toyota all being informed by the test findings.