Takata says recall decision is up to automakers
Wed., Dec. 3, 2014
DETROIT – Japan’s Takata Corp. refused to comply with a U.S. government demand for an expanded recall of its air bags that can explode and shoot out shrapnel, and instead passed along the crucial decision to automakers.
The U.S. immediately criticized the response as inadequate. So far, 14 million vehicles worldwide have been recalled due to the air bag problem, including 8 million in the U.S. Takata has yet to pinpoint a cause, even though the recalls started a decade ago.
The U.S. government wants Takata and automakers to add millions of cars across the U.S. to recalls now limited to areas with high humidity. The automakers indicated Tuesday that they want to do their own testing, in addition to tests underway at Takata.
The deadline had been set for midnight Tuesday for Takata to send a response to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which was demanding a national recall of driver-side air bags.
In Tokyo, Takata spokesman Hideyuki Matsumoto said the company’s response to NHTSA was “neither a yes nor a no.” Takata agreed to cooperate with the automakers on whatever they decide, he said.
NHTSA called Takata’s reply “disappointing.”
“Takata shares responsibility for keeping drivers safe and we believe anything short of a national recall does not live up to that responsibility,” it said.
Today, Takata and some of the automakers are set to appear at a U.S. House subcommittee hearing on the matter.
Takata on Tuesday said it had formed a panel to investigate its inflator manufacturing process. Toyota Motor Corp. and Honda Motor Co. have been calling for an industrywide investigation.
In a statement, Toyota said it will ask the industry to hire an independent engineering company, and the affected companies would share results to figure out recall repairs. So far, General Motors, Nissan, Subaru, Chrysler and Ford have agreed to cooperate.
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