Takata Panel to Release Review of Manufacturing Practices

  • Report will be first in a series to look at Takata's processes
  • Takata last month reported 11th death involving its air bags

Takata Corp., the air-bag maker responsible for the biggest auto-safety recall in history, is poised to learn the results of a probe into its manufacturing practices by an outside panel set up one year ago.

The U.S. transportation secretary during the George H.W. Bush administration and two former heads of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration are among members of the panel releasing its report Tuesday on Takata’s policies and procedures. The auto-parts maker last month reported an 11th death involving its air-bag inflators, which have prompted recalls of more than 20 million vehicles in the U.S. alone.

The report is among a number of investigations undertaken by Takata and its major customers to look at the company’s manufacturing of air bags, some of which have deployed with too much force and sprayed metal and plastic shards at vehicle occupants. Separate probes into the root cause of its defective air bags will determine how much of recall costs Takata will be responsible for paying.

Honda Motor Co. initiated the first recalls related to Takata’s air-bag issues in 2008, when the defect was suspected to be linked to a faulty manufacturing press at one of the company’s propellant factories. The recall expanded several times over the next three years due to discrepancies in the company’s record-keeping.

By 2013, recalls expanded to affect BMW AG, Mazda Motor Corp., Nissan Motor Co. and Toyota Motor Corp., with Takata citing another flaw involving a manufacturing press and the possibility that chemical propellant was exposed to moisture, making it unstable.

In addition to these known manufacturing issues, Takata has blamed air-bag ruptures on the inflators’ old age and exposure to high humidity and temperatures. Some of the vehicles that automakers have recalled are more than 15 years old.

The latest expansion to Takata’s recalls affect about 5 million vehicles in the U.S., NHTSA said last month. Prior to this action, about 23 million inflators in 19 million vehicles had been recalled.

Takata’s shares fell 1.3 percent to 587 yen as of 11:30 a.m. in Tokyo trading. The benchmark Topix index was little changed.

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