Beleaguered auto supplier Takata took out full-page ads in several newspapers today saying more must be done to resolve the problem with its airbags, but a national recall of the faulty devices was not the answer.
And then Ford expanded its recall of the airbags to a national action.
The ad, which was an open letter from Takata CEO Shigehisa Takada, was published in The Detroit News, Detroit Free Press, The Wall Street Journal, New York Times and three German papers. In the letter, Takada, who is the grandson of the company’s founder, outlined what the company was doing to try and rectify the situation, such as increasing the number of replacement parts being manufactured from 300,000 a month to 450,000, asking other airbag suppliers to produce parts and tripling the amount of testing it’s conducting on airbags.
However, it remained steadfast in its refusal to comply with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration demand to expand a driver-side air bag recall nationally by 8 million vehicles. The company has repeatedly argued there is no scientific basis to expand the recall nationally.
“We understand the public’s concerns, and we take them seriously,” Takada wrote.
It comes as the company’s CEO told the Nikkei newspaper in his first public comments in months that it didn’t do a good job communicating.
“Our intention didn’t come across well,” Takada told the Nikkei newspaper. “People saw the image that we were against recalls.”
The letter comes on the heels of NHTSA’s repeated statements that it intends to force Takata and several automakers to expand the recall. Ford heard that call today when it added 447,000 vehicles to its recall list of vehicles using the defective Takata airbags.
Ford’s action involves certain 2005 to 2008 Mustangs and 2005 and 2006 GT sports cars. The automaker said it would also recall the same cars in Canada, Mexico and a few other countries. Ford now has about 539,000 cars impacted by the recall.
(Feds will force Takata, automakers to expand airbag recall nationally. For more, Click Here.)
When NHTSA began making noise about pressuring automakers to expand the recall from a regional action in areas with high humidity to a national action, there were five automakers who said they wouldn’t follow the guidance.
(Click Here for details Chrysler’s limited expansion of the Takata airbag recall.)
With Ford’s announcement today, that number is now just two: BMW and Chrysler.
(To see how the Takata airbag crisis affected the debut of Honda’s FCV, Click Here.)
Initially, the U.S. passenger airbag recalls was limited to Florida, Hawaii, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. However, it has been expanded to Saipan, Guam, American Samoa as well as Alabama, Georgia, Hawaii, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas — all areas with average annual dew points of 60 degrees or higher. The dew point is the temperature at which moisture condenses out of the air.
Honda, which is Takata’s biggest customer, was among the first to agree to take the recall from a regional to a national action.