On Tuesday US lawmakers held a Congressional subcommittee hearing to ask Japan’s Takata Corp for answers about its expanding worldwide crisis involving airbag inflators.
Since 2008, the Japanese auto safety parts manufacturer, along eleven automotive clients, have recalled more than 53 million autos worldwide – with almost 34 million in the United States – because the airbag inflators can explode with too much force, sending metal debris and shrapnel inside the cabin at high velocity. More than one hundred injuries and six fatalities have been tied so far to the defective parts. Now the US lawmakers have also raised concerns about Takata’s speed on finding the root cause (yet unknown) of the flawed airbags. “I have serious concerns about where we are in the process. It is inconceivable to me that none of the tests conducted by Takata over the past year on over 30,000 inflators has given us a clearer picture and dictated more direct action,” commented Michael Burgess, a Texas Republican, during the hearing held in Washington. The volatile airbags have triggered the largest single-product recall in US history and have been going about unsolved for more than a decade as neither Tokyo-based Takata nor the US auto safety regulator NHTSA finding a reason.
The risk has been called so great that almost 34 million autos are being called back in for repairs as a precaution, though officials of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration have cautioned that these vehicles might go back for a second round of repairs in the future if the cause is identified afterwards.