Bloomberg News report
TOKYO (June 25, 2015) — Takata Corp. President Shigehisa Takada has made a public apology for the eight deaths and hundreds of injuries related to the company's airbags dating back more than a decade.
Mr. Takada, 49, bowed and apologized at a press briefing in Tokyo after the company's annual shareholders meeting June 25. He said the safety components supplier is considering ways to help victims, including by setting up a fund to compensate them.
“I apologize for not having been able to communicate directly earlier, and also apologize for people who died or were injured,” Mr. Takada said. “I feel sorry our products hurt customers, despite the fact that we are a supplier of safety products.”
The grandson of the Japanese company's founder spoke hours after Toyota Motor Corp. and Nissan Motor Co., two of Takata's biggest customers, recalled another 3 million vehicles with airbags produced by the supplier. All fatalities related to Takata airbags — which can deploy too forcefully and shoot shrapnel at vehicle occupants — have occurred in Honda Motor Co. cars, and the devices have injured more than 100.
Takata will continue to use ammonium nitrate as the propellant that inflates its airbags through a chemical reaction, Senior Vice President Hiroshi Shimizu said. The company has produced more than 200 million inflators that use the material, cited by at least one auto maker as a cause for safety concern.
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles N.V. (FCA) said this week it is switching suppliers to replace driver-side airbag inflators made by Takata in more than 4 million recalled vehicles. The decision was related to choosing a safe chemical propellant instead of Takata's ammonium nitrate, Scott Kunselman, FCA's head of vehicle safety for North America, said June 23 during a Senate hearing in Washington, D.C.