Takata has yet to find 'root cause' of air bag ruptures: executive

Wed Dec 3, 2014 4:44pm EST
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By Patrick Rucker and Ben Klayman

WASHINGTON/DETROIT (Reuters) - Japanese auto parts supplier Takata Corp on Wednesday acknowledged that it still does not understand what is causing air bag explosions that have hurtled metal shards into vehicles but insisted that calls for a broader recall to remedy the problem were misguided.

Takata is under pressure from U.S. lawmakers and safety regulators to expand to all 50 states a recall of driver-side air bags, but the company has said data does not support such a move and it could divert replacement parts from the most-needed areas.

So far, Takata and automakers have focused attention on regions with high humidity believed to make aging air bag propellants more volatile.

“Congressman, we don’t identify the root cause yet," Hiroshi Shimizu, a Takata safety executive who gave his testimony with help from an interpreter told Representative John Sarbanes. "But we are of the strong opinion that (there) is a factor contributing to this defect: which is high humidity, temperature and the life of the product.”

The exchange came at a House Energy and Commerce subcommittee hearing on the Takata air bag problems which took place a day after Takata told the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration that current data does not support the need for such an expanded recall.

Still the stance of Takata, which is at the center of a global safety scandal that has involved the recall of more than 16 million cars worldwide and been linked to at least five fatalities, may be increasingly at odds with its customers.

A Honda Motor Co executive said on Wednesday that the automaker will expand the driver-side air bag recall to a national campaign, but added priority for the replacement parts should still be given to regions with higher humidity.


Rep. Lee Terry (R-NE) (L), the chair of the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee hearing on "Takata Airbag Ruptures and Recalls", escorts Hiroshi Shimizu (R), Takata Senior Vice President for global quality assurance, in Washington December 3, 2014.   REUTERS/Gary Cameron