According to a report coming from Democrats on a U.S. Senate committee, auto safety parts manufacturer Takata Corp., the Japanese company entrenched in a global safety crisis over airbags, might have pushed earnings ahead of safety.
That could be one of the causes that have led to the onset of one of the largest and most complex auto recalls ever – triggering the biggest single-product safety campaign in the history of America. The report comes from the minority on the Senate Commerce Committee and was released Monday, a day before the parts supplier’s defective inflators will be discussed at a Washington hearing. Since 2008, but mostly since last year, Takata and eleven automotive partners have recalled millions of vehicles worldwide – and close to 34 million in the US alone – because of airbags that can deploy with too much force, as the inflators rupture and send metal debris and other small parts flying inside the cabin at high speed. The defect has been linked to at least eight fatalities and hundreds of injuries. “Internal emails obtained by the committee suggest that Takata may have prioritized profit over safety by halting global safety audits for financial reasons,” read the report.
The report further states that Takata internal communication indicates factory safety audits were ceased between 2009 and 2011 “due to financial reasons.” In response, Takata defended itself claiming the report had “a number of inaccuracies” and the emails referred to certain materials, not “product quality or safety.”