The US lawmakers says there are evidence that the Japanese supplier hid its airbags problems by manipulating data and released some internal Takata documents as proof.
A Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation committee report cited a series of internal Takata documents and emails from the past 12 years that showed company officials argued data on inflator quality and testing was manipulated to hide the problems. In a meeting with Committee staff, Takata official stated that the most serious data manipulation happened in 2000, before the recalls. However, emails and documents reviewed by Committee minority staff demonstrate that the data integrity issues continued even in the years after the airbag recalls began, when fatalities were already linked to the rupturing airbags. Takata answered that there was no link between the instances of data manipulation and the defects that were the subject of recalls. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said, as of February 11, that more than 29 million inflators, approximately 23 million vehicles, and fourteen automakers were affected. The faulty airbags have caused at least ten deaths, including nine in the US, and more than 100 injuries worldwide. According to the staffers’ report, Takata engineers raised concerns on several occasions with management about instances of validation testing data being manipulated to align with customer specifications or selectively withheld from Takata customers, but those concerns were dismissed or ignored.
Supplier’s spokesman Jared Levy said issues about testing and data handling raised “are entirely inexcusable and will not be tolerated or repeated.” Levy added that “issues with validation testing of the original phase stabilized ammonium nitrate inflators are not the root cause of the field ruptures, but these issues are totally incompatible with Takata’s engineering standards and protocols.”