Japanese safety auto parts producer Takata Corp has been involved in the second big safety scandal of the year, after millions of cars have been recalled since 2008.
Since 2013 in the US alone around 8 million vehicles have been recalled by numerous automakers – though Honda holds the record, as Takata’s biggest client – and the company is now subject to numerous federal probes, a criminal investigation and a Senate committee hearing. Here are some highlights of the events that led to the airbag crisis.
2008, November 4: First recall by an automaker (Honda) for 4,000 cars globally because the airbags have faulty inflators that can explode with excessive force and shoot metal debris inside the cabin at high velocity.
2009, May 27: First recorded fatality – Oklahoma teen Ashley Parham dies at the fault of her 2001 Honda Accord’s airbag. Both Honda and Takata deny they are to blame and settle with the victims’ family.
2009, December 24: Gurjit Rathore dies in Virginia in his 2001 Honda Accord, with the airbag exploding following a minor incident.
2013, April 11: Toyota, Honda, Nissan and Mazda order 3.4 million autos to be recalled globally. May 10: Takata hit with record $212.5 million annual loss, names for the first time a foreigner as president, Swiss national Stefan Stocker.
2013, September 3: third fatality case linked to defective airbags. Devin Xu is killed in a 2002 Acura TL sedan from “apparent facial trauma due to foreign object inside air bag,” according to coroner’s report.
2014, June 11: NHTSA opens probe into the airbag recall events. June 23: a total of 10.5 million vehicles have been recalled over five years.
2014, October 2: fourth documented fatality. Orlando woman Hien Thi Tran is killed four days after her 2001 Honda Accord is involved in an accident where the airbag explodes. October 22: NHTSA says total US recall figures stand at 7.8 million units. The safety regulator orders documents from Takata and Honda in the next few days.
2014, November 7: The New York Times reports that Takata had secret tests on airbags done in 2004 and the findings (indicating a faulty part) are ordered to be destroyed. November 13: the fifth Takata airbag victim is reported, the first outside the US. Takata’s US unit is subpoenaed by a federal grand jury in US District Court for the Southern District of New York.