SRS-Airbag

After months of avoiding the media spotlight, Takata Corporation CEO, Shigehisa Takada, has finally stepped up and issued a formal apology over the airbag-related scandal that has resulted in the single largest recall ever conducted in American automotive history.

“I want to first offer my heartfelt condolences for those who have lost their lives because of our damaged inflators. I also want to again apologise for the worry this may have caused everyone,” said Takada at a press conference in Tokyo, Japan. “We are obviously considering how we can provide relief for the victims. Unfortunately, we haven’t reach that point where we can say exactly what that will be,” he added.

When asked why he had taken so long to issue a formal response, Takada stated that his first priority of making sure that the products were still safe had prevented him from doing so, as understood by NBC News. “I had been in discussions with automakers and regulatory authorities,” said Takada. “In doing so I realised how I missed several opportunities to speak and for that I apologise.”

Toyota, Honda and Nissan are among the marques affected.

Interestingly enough, Takata has rubbished reports surrounding the cause of failure for its airbag inflators. It is widely believed that the use of ammonium nitrate as a form of propellant had been the root of the problem – the propellant tablets were known to degrade over time with said process sped up by the presence of moisture. Should it deploy, the inflator itself would rupture, spraying metal shrapnel all over the cabin.

Takata is still working to pinpoint the root cause. “We have been working with ammonium nitrate for more than 10 years, and have tested it in a variety of ways. As far as I’m concerned, it is safe and reliable,” said Takada. With that said, other manufacturers have shunned ammonium nitrate for its apparent instability.

Wave after wave of recalls worldwide have resulted in a total of close to 34 million vehicles being affected from manufacturers such as Ford, Chrysler, BMW, Mazda, Subaru, Nissan, Toyota, Mitsubishi and Honda. All in all, eight deaths have been recorded – seven in the US and one here in Malaysia.