The Takata Corp., a Japanese auto safety manufacturer, is caught in an escalating recall crisis that involves millions of automobiles and at least 10 different automobile makers in the United States. Takata’s airbags have so far been linked to five deaths that occurred when the airbags exploded upon inflation, propelling metal shrapnel-like shards.
A first airbag recall that began in 2008 was limited to only specific models of driver’s side airbags in certain hot and humid regions of the United States. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration initially said there was no need to expand the recall to a national level as long as there was no evidence of a wider risk. However, an incident that occurred in North Carolina this past August provided the regulator with that evidence and convinced NHTSA to demand the recall of millions of additional vehicles.
Takata has objected to NHTSA’s order for additional recalls, saying it could mean a delay in delivery of replacement parts to regions with high humidity and temperatures, which Takata considers a top priority.
Takata executives face questioning by members of the Congress over the length of time involved in the recall, which has been ongoing since 2008.The company and its officials also face criminal allegations by a federal grand jury.