With 'attitude shift', Takata moves from denial to compromise in air bag crisis

Wed May 27, 2015 5:03pm EDT
Email This Article |
Share This Article
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
| Print This Article | Single Page
[-] Text [+]

By Norihiko Shirouzu

BEIJING (Reuters) - Japan's Takata Corp, which for months resisted U.S. regulators' demands to widen a recall over its potentially lethal air bags, has had an "attitude shift" and is in a mood to compromise to try to resolve the ballooning auto safety crisis, said a person close to the company.

That doesn't mean Takata is ready to take all the blame and shoulder all the cost of fixing tens of millions of air bags that have been linked to six deaths, all in Honda Motor cars, when they exploded violently and sprayed metal shards into the vehicles.

The knowledgeable person, who has been briefed by Takata management leaders, said the company is adamant that its automaker customers share the blame, and the financial burden.

"'There's no use or gain in fighting the regulators' is how one Takata management leader explained to me as to why Takata has undergone this shift," the person said, adding Takata, via its lawyers, began contacting the U.S. Department of Transportation and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) in mid-April.

Those talks eventually led to last week's announcement by Takata and the U.S. regulators doubling the recall of air bags to nearly 34 million vehicles. Millions more have been recalled outside the United States since 2008.

"We have always worked closely with NHTSA and other American regulators, and have been in close contact right from the start with them over the current recall," Takata spokesman Hideyuki Matsumoto told Reuters.

MOUNTING COSTS   Continued...

Deployed Takata manufactured airbags are seen on the driver and passenger side of a 2007 Dodge Charger at a recycled auto parts lot in Detroit, Michigan May 20, 2015.  REUTERS/Rebecca Cook