Takata chief apologizes, defends safety of inflator design
Takata’s shy chief executive has finally made a statement directly to the public, addressing the ongoing crisis with an apologetic tone but remaining defiant about allegations of inherent safety issues with the company’s airbag inflators.
“I apologize from my heart to those who have died or been injured,” said chief executive Shigehisa Takada during a news conference, as quoted by The New York Times. “I feel a heavy responsibility.”
The reclusive executive has remained out of the public eye since the recall crisis began unfolding early last year. He assumed the role of chariman and president late last year after the company apparently ousted former president Stefan Stocker, a Swiss national.
Despite Takada’s remorseful comments, the executive did not indicate any intention to resign as the company faces increasing scrutiny for its handling of the ongoing recall. He also defended the use of ammonium nitrate in the inflators, despite known concerns over the explosive chemical’s stability when exposed to moisture over time.
“We have been working with ammonium nitrate for more than 10 years, and have tested it in a variety of ways. As far as I’m concerned, it is safe and reliable,” he said.
The company has identified manufacturing deficiencies as likely responsible for defects in approximately 10 million components, however investigators are still working to determine a root cause for the rest of the problems. Heat and high humidity have been linked to failures, but the supplier claims the inflator designs are not inherently unsafe.
Defective inflators have been blamed for at least eight deaths.