Tuesday, June 23, 2015
Bloomberg News (6/22, Levin, 3.81M) reports that employees of Takata Corp. knew of “serious safety and quality control issues as early as 2001, years before flaws in its automobile air bags surfaced,” according to a report issued by Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee Democrats on Monday. The firm “also halted global safety audits to save money,” the report said. The AP (6/23, Krisher) says the report also “accused the government’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration of failing to promptly investigate early reports of defective air bags.”
The New York Times (6/23, Tabuchi, Ivory, Subscription Publication, 12.24M) says that the order to halt audits “was just one of many serious safety lapses” detailed in the report. Takata “quickly disputed the report’s findings as misleading” and argued that “it conducted regular reviews of product quality and safety.” The Times also says the report mentioned that “Takata and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration agreed that the best course of action was to press on with the recalls,” due to concerns that gradual degradation of propellant in the airbags can increase the risk of rupture.The Wall Street Journal (6/23, Spector, Subscription Publication, 5.68M) says that the report was released a day before NHTSA Administrator Mark Rosekind and Takata North American VP Kevin Kennedy were set to testify before the full Senate Commerce Committee. The report also criticizes Federal regulators for failing to quickly investigate the issue once problems emerged, the Journal says, noting that the agency’s inspector general will also testify Tuesday. Reuters (6/22) reports in brief coverage that the hearing Tuesday will focus on NHTSA’s role in the recall probe as well as Takata’s efforts and those of other automakers to address defective air bags.