Does any company in the auto industry tell the truth?
Volkswagen has taken the automotive scandal spotlight for itself in recent months. Still, that doesn't mean we should forget Japanese airbag maker Takata, the folks behind the killer airbags and the recipients of a massive fine. The Japanese company is back in the news once again thanks to the Wall Street Journal (WSJ, paywall), which is reporting that Takata was warned by US employees that their Japanese counterparts were doctoring test data. The warnings took place over a 10-year period, 2000 to 2010, yet Takata did nothing.
The data being fudged came from validation tests, as in the tests run to ensure the airbags met customer (automaker) specification. When asked by the WSJ for comment, Takata did not deny the data manipulation. "There have been instances in the past when Takata provided inflater validation testing reports to automotive customers that contained selective, incomplete or inaccurate data," a company spokesperson said. The spokesperson also mentioned that a rush to meet deadlines contributed to reporting inaccuracies. The Wall Street Journal isn't citing anonymous sources or execs looking to curry favor in court. No, it's actually getting these details straight from documents that Takata produced during litigation.
One particularly damning quote comes from a memo written by a US employee, Bob Schubert, to a colleague. The bomb drop quote about the false test results is that "the practice has gone beyond all reasonable bounds and now most likely constitutes fraud." In addition to fraud Takata has eight deaths and over 100 injuries it needs to account for thanks to its exploding airbags which acted sort of like grenades, spraying shrapnel in the cabin upon deployment.