Takata debacle puts GM’s mishaps under the shade image

The year started off incredibly hard for General Motors, after a February recall that led to lawsuits, a total rethink of the approach on safety and a record number of recalls. It looks like it’s finishing worse, with a Japanese supplier making the US automaker look like an “angel” in comparison.

The General Motors recall that should have been done at least a decade ago triggered numerous federal probes, a NHTSA fine, US Congress hearings, the creation of a victims’ compensation fund and lawsuits worth billions of dollars. But, thanks to the careful guidance of CEO Mary Barra, all that mess seems to be ready to be put behind – with the automaker making the right thing for the victims’ of the recall, accepting federal punishment and pledging a deep corporate culture change.

Meanwhile, Takata and ten automotive brands have recalled millions of vehicles since 2008 (some of them twice) for an incredible potential threat – the airbags (meant to save the lives of the car’s occupants) have inflators that can explode with too much force and send metal debris flying through the cabin at high velocity.

The NHTSA, Takata and automakers have acted wrongly and slowly. No less than 7.8 million cars have been recalled since 2013 on a “regional” basis (mostly in high-humidity regions), but many safety advocates say the recall should be expanded to all vehicles equipped by Takata – the world’s second largest auto safety parts supplier. The automakers and the Japanese firm repeatedly said the action is not a true recall and it’s only a safety precaution – but four persons died in Honda cars and many others have been injured.