July 17, 2015
By now everyone should know about Takata Corporation’s massive recall. It is the largest automotive recall in American history. 34 million vehicles, or, for increased perspective; more than 1 car for every ten people in the United States. Up until recently, the company was acting like it was just an inevitable eventuality of business; if your business expands enough, someone will eventually be impaled by a piece of shrapnel. Though, Takata Corporation’s CEO did finally apologize after seven years of an active recall, which is something… at least. The recall most directly stems from a revolutionary chemical Takata uses as a propellant for its airbags. Ammonium Nitrate is much cheaper than standard propellants, and could be just as effective as the others. However, when paired with the other cost cutting and deadline dodging techniques used by the safety specialists; concussive consequences ensued. Takata Corporation was experiencing fulminant growth. Before the turn of the millennia they went from 650 million to over billion in 4 years. I suppose most of that went into R&D because after that they started using their new propellant. Takata was the fifth largest supplier of airbags by 2000, but their infrastructure was not ready for the volume they had promised to move. The same thing is happening to FCA currently. After being so close to the ledge of destruction, they started ripping cars out of their factory as fast as humanly possible. But to do this many things were overlooked, yielding 20 recalls in a disturbingly short span. In fact, FCA was actually condemned by the NHTSA, whom claimed that FCA hid the fact that had not sent out recall letters; regarding the airbag recall; as promised. Anytime a company expands faster than their infrastructure, doom will likely develop. Takata Corporation was growing beyond its capabilities. They missed so many deadlines, Automakers implemented a 10,000 tax for every minute late a shipment was. Needless to say, Takata began to take those deadlines seriously. Factory managers started to put production before quality. This lead to faulty materials and products to be mixed with working ones and shipped out, transportation issues and quality control issues. At one point, the company stopped quality control inspections of some sort. The company claims that sounds worse than it is, because it was only specific check that was not very essential, but it still sounds a little bad. Old inspectors actually said that they had warned Takata personnel prior to the problems. They claimed that they warned the inspection technology they were using was outdated and that some inflators were already starting to malfunction in the early 00’s. The budding company did not heed warnings until 2004. The first claymore went off in 2002 Accord that year. It would have been something different if Takata Corporation apologized then, even if they did not have a solution, at least the populace would have known of the issue. Who knows, it could have saved a few lives and avoided countless injuries. After their airbag went off with enough ferocity to propel metal and plastic at the driver, Takata started to hold secret quality tests after hours and on holidays to find the source of the issue. After months of secret meetings, destroyed all the findings and evidence of the tests. It was not until 2008 that a recall officially started. 7 years later, the problem has still not been formally fixed. People with recalled vehicles are waiting months, after visiting dealers with their recall notice to get a replacement airbag, that is likely still faulty. On top of that the Japanese company refuses to start a compensation fund for their victims. They claim that it is better to deal with each case individually. The fund was called for by Richard Blumenthal. The Democratic Senator from Connecticut cited that GM made one and that it was shameful that they did not. The Japanese auto subsidiary argued that the ignition switch recall was very different, which is true. GM’s recall has been linked to 121 deaths scary fast, and most people affected are unable to sue new GM for old GM issues. At least GM has something; 600 million tucked away for victims, Takata Corporation is so far in the red, and an apology is free; it’s all the can afford right now.