Japan’s Takata Corp., a global auto safety parts manufacturer, is at the heart of an expanding safety crisis that concerns its airbags inflators, linked to at least six fatalities worldwide.
The ensuing scandal has naturally brought numerous probes and investigation from safety regulators and just like in GM’s case last year with the ignition switch defect recall, the federal authorities have also opened a criminal investigation. The airbag inflators in more than 53 million units have been recalled globally since 2008, as they can explode with too much force and send metal debris and shrapnel flying inside the cabin at high velocity. He latest development on the criminal probe is that Detroit’s prosecutors have joined forces with the US federal probe surrounding Takata’s defective airbags. According to the Detroit office, the US Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Michigan and the US Department of Justice’s Criminal Division, Fraud Section in Washington “are jointly handling the criminal investigation into Takata.”
So far, all of the six deaths including a pregnant woman and her infant in Malaysia, have occurred in Honda-produced vehicles, the third largest Japanese automaker being Takata’s biggest client. The criminal probe started last fall as the US federal prosecutors started to wonder if Takata, with its North American headquarters in Auburn Hills, Michigan, hasn’t misled the auto safety regulators about the real number of flawed airbags produced for eleven automakers. Most recently, the Japanese parts maker expanded its US recall from 16.6 million vehicles to almost 34 million autos belonging to eleven carmakers.