|Founded||Shiga Prefecture, Japan (1933 )|
Number of employees
|35,000 world wide
11,000 in Europe
Takata Corporation (タカタ株式会社 Takata Kabushiki Gaisha?) is an automotive parts company based in Japan. The company has production facilities on four continents, with its European headquarters located in Germany, where it also has nine production facilities. It had a turnover of around four billion euros in 2008.
Takata was founded in 1933 in Shiga Prefecture, Japan, by Takezo Takada and started to produce lifelines for parachutes, and other textiles. In the early 1950s, the company started to research seat belts. Later they incorporated as "Takata". In the 1960s, Takata started to sell seat-belts and built the world's first crash test plant for testing seat-belts under real world conditions. In the 1970s, Takata developed child restraint systems. In the 1980s, the company changed its name to "Takata Corporation" and expanded to Korea, the United States, and later to Ireland, to sell seat-belts. In the 1990s, Takata expanded internationally.
In 2000, Takata Corporation acquired German competitor Petri AG, forming the European subsidiary Takata-Petri, renamed Takata AG in early 2012. Takata AG makes steering wheels and plastic parts, not only for the automotive industry.
1995 seat belt recall
In May 1995, a recall in the U.S. affecting 8,428,402 predominantly Japanese vehicles made from 1986 to 1991 with seat belts manufactured by the Takata Corporation of Japan, was begun. It was called at the time the "second largest recall in the 30 year history of the Department of Transportation (DOT)". The recall was prompted by an investigation (PE94-052) carried out by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) on Takata-equipped Honda vehicles, after many of their owners complained of seat belt buckles either failing to latch, latching and releasing automatically, or releasing in accidents. It revealed that potentially faulty Takata seat belts were not limited only to Honda vehicles, but to other Japanese imports as well. NHTSA opened up a second investigation on Takata seatbelts broadly (EA94-036) as well as individual investigations on the vehicle manufacturers using Takata seat belts to determine the magnitude of the defect. This second investigation was only limited to the front seat belt buckles and in particular Takata's 52X and A7X models. This determined that a total of 11 manufacturers were affected by the investigation. Japanese models sold in the United States by American Honda Motor Co., Isuzu Motors of America Inc., Mazda Motor of America Inc., Nissan North America, Daihatsu Motor Co., American, Mitsubishi Motor Sales of America Inc. and Subaru of America Inc. also had affected seat belt buckles. Moreover, Chrysler, General Motors and Ford all had various models manufactured by Japanese companies with the seat belt buckles concerned, but sold under American names such as the Dodge Stealth and the Geo series (except Prizm) under General Motors. Ford had vehicles such as the Probe manufactured by Mazda on its MX-6 platform and the Festiva made by Kia in South Korea, but engineered by Mazda that also had the seat belts. However, unlike Chrysler and General Motors, Ford did not admit that their seat belts could be defective.
Initially, some Japanese manufacturers suspected that the seat belt failures were a result of user abuse, rather than a design failure; however, the nine-month investigation by NHTSA concluded that the cause of the defect was that the buckles were made of ABS plastic. Through exposure to ultraviolet light over a period of time, the plastic became brittle and pieces fell off, causing a jamming of the release button mechanism.
The manufacturers involved agreed to a voluntary recall, though this did not go smoothly, with only 18% of the 8.9 million cars and trucks with the Takata belt buckle having been repaired two years after the recall had begun. In addition, NHTSA assessed a $50,000 civil penalty against both Honda and Takata for failing to notify the agency about the seat belt defect in a timely manner. Honda was fined, because NHTSA believed the company knew about the hazard at least five years before the recall, but never reported the problem to NHTSA nor offered to conduct a voluntary recall.
Defective airbag recalls (2013-present)
Takata began making airbags in 1988 and, as of 2014, holds 20 percent of the market. During 2013, several automakers began large recalls of vehicle due to Takata-made airbags. Reports state that the problems may have begun a decade before.
In April and May 2013, a total of 3.6 million cars were recalled due to defective Takata airbags. All of those airbags were made at, or otherwise used inflator units manufactured by, Takata's Monclova Plant in Coahuila, Mexico, operated by Takata's North American/Mexican subsidiary, TK Holdings Inc. In November 2014, BMW announced they will move any orders from the Mexican plant to a Takata plant in Germany.
In June 2014, Takata admitted their Mexican subsidiary had mishandled the manufacture of explosive propellants and improperly stored chemicals used in airbags. Identifying vehicles with defective airbags was made more difficult by the failure of TK Holdings Inc. to keep proper quality control records. That prompted another round of recalls in June 2013.
In their statement the company said, "We take this situation seriously, will strengthen our quality control and make a concerted effort to prevent a recurrence".
On June 23, 2014, auto manufacturers BMW, Chrysler, Ford, Honda, Mazda, Nissan, and Toyota announced they were recalling over three million vehicles worldwide due to Takata Corporation-made airbags. The reason was that they could rupture and send flying debris inside the vehicle. This was in response to a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) investigation that was initiated after the NHTSA received three injury complaints.
In a statement on June 23, 2014, Takata said they thought excessive moisture was the cause of the defect. Haruo Otani, an official at the vehicle recall section of the Japanese Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism, said that moisture and humidity could be seeping inside inflators, destabilizing the volatile propellant inside.
In July 2014, a pregnant Malaysian woman was killed in a collision involving her 2003 Honda City which contained the defective airbag. The woman, aged 42, died when a metal fragment from a ruptured driver’s airbag sliced into her neck in the accident in which she was driving at around 30 km/h when another vehicle hit her at a junction, according to a lawsuit filed by her father at a Miami federal court. Her daughter, delivered after the mother's death, died three days later.
On November 18, 2014, the NHTSA ordered Takata to initiate a nationwide airbag recall. The action came as 10 automakers in the U.S. recalled hundreds of thousands of cars equipped with potentially faulty air bags manufactured by Takata.
On May 19, 2015, Takata is now responsible for the largest auto recall in history. Takata has already recalled 18 million vehicles for "Airbags that could explode and potentially send shrapnel into the face and body of both the driver and front seat passenger"  This recall will bring the number up to about 34 million automobiles eligible for this recall.
In May 2014, General Motors expanded their earlier recall of their 2012 Chevrolet Cruze sedan and other models because of an electrical problem with the Takata airbags. The recall also included the Buick Verano, the Chevrolet Sonic and the Chevrolet Camaro.
On June 25, 2014, General Motors told their North American dealers to stop selling their 2013 and 2014 model Chevrolet Cruze sedans. GM stated, "Certain vehicles may be equipped with a suspect driver's air bag inflator module that may have been assembled with an incorrect part." The airbags involved were made by Takata Corporation. On June 11, 2014, Toyota recalled 2.3 million vehicles, many for the second time.
The NHTSA received notification from BMW, Chrysler, Ford, Honda, Mazda, Nissan, and Toyota that they were conducting limited regional recalls to address a possible safety defect involving Takata brand air bag inflators.
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- History, Takata Corporation website.
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... exploding airbags that have been linked to six deaths and more than 100 injuries
- "New Recall by Honda After Death in Malaysia Is Tied to Takata Airbag". New York Times. November 13, 2014.
- Defect Information Report, Certain Air Bag Inflators Used as Original Equipment (Takata report sent to NHTSA, April 2013)
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- takata.com, the company's official website
- Bernstein, Joanna Zuckerman; Klayman, Ben (20 November 2014). "Special Report: Plant with troubled past at center of Takata air bag probe". Reuters. Retrieved 25 May 2015.