After years of dealing with a faulty airbag scandal, new problems surrounding safety belts produced by bankrupt auto supplier Takata Corp. are surfacing, possibly leading to millions of new recalls in the U.S.
Joyson Safety Systems, the Michigan-based company that bought Takata’s remains out of bankruptcy about two years ago, revealed that it’s looking into to test data inaccuracies related to its safety belt webbing.
According to Reuters, JSS found the discrepancies in reporting from the factory in Hikone, Japan. Apparently, the supplier had concerns about the issue before it acquired the facility in April 2018. The problem attracted attention from Japan’s transportation ministry, which has asked JSS to report its findings.
“JSS is currently reviewing available and relevant data over a 20-year period on a test-by-test and product-by-product basis,” said Bryan Johnson, global communications director, in a statement.
At this point, it’s uncertain how many vehicles could be affected by the faulty data, specifically if any vehicles involved in the testing were shipped to the U.S. Takata was the dominant supplier in the segment at one time. It dominated the Japanese market, accounting for a 40% market share in Japan, and about 30% globally.
Takata was at the center of the largest recall in history due to its faulty airbag inflators. The units used a chemical compound that could degrade over time, causing them to explode with more force than necessary, hurling plastic and metal shrapnel into the cabin of the affected vehicles.
Ultimately, the problem affected about 100 million airbags globally with 70% of them in the U.S. Although an exact number of vehicles affected is difficult nail down, it’s believed to be about 50 million, according to various experts. Hundreds of people have been injured due to the problem and 25, including 17 in the U.S., have been killed. The most recent fatality occurred Oct. 5 in Arizona.
The final phase of the recall settlement will cover about 10 million faulty bags used in vehicles sold by 14 manufacturers, including Audi, BMW, Honda, Daimler (vans), Fiat Chrysler, Ferrari, Ford, General Motors, Mazda, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Subaru, Toyota and Volkswagen. Vehicles covered by this wave include some dating back as far as 1999 and as new as 2014 Subaru Forester, Legacy and Outback models.
In 2017, Takata pleaded guilty to criminal wrongdoing over its inflators, including submitting false inflator test results to automaker clients to induce them to buy its defective products, Reuters reported.