The chief of Japan’s auto safety supplier Takata Corp. has declared their internal investigation into why the manufacturer’s airbag inflators were failing was not going well, with millions of cars still being recalled to replace the faulty component.
Chief Executive Shigehisa Takada, who is also the grandson of the company’s founder, revealed the disturbing news during the company’s annual shareholders’ gathering on Thursday as he responded to a question as to when the probe would be finished. Takata’s airbag inflators – a crucial component that allows the deployment of the bag in a fraction of a second if a crash occurs – have malfunctioned for years, as they explode with too much force and send metal shards and other debris inside the cabin at high velocity. The defective part has been tied to eight deaths and hundreds of injuries since 2008 when the safety campaigns started. Today there are numerous investigations – by Takata, a consortium of the ten automakers implicated and safety officials – but the root cause of the problem has not been found. “The analysis isn’t progressing very well,” Takada said in front of shareholders.
He refrained from speculating on a timeframe for a conclusion to be reached and this was the first public appearance by the 49-year-old executive since exactly one year ago at the previous investor meeting. He added that his best response to the task of being responsible of the recall saga was to continue leading the company and see the crisis through, adding he hoped the supplier would restart paying dividends “as soon as possible” after the crisis was resolved.