VIDEO: Sen. Nelson Provides Update On Airbag Recall
By Office of Sen. Bill Nelson // March 13, 2015
WASHINGTON D.C. — In a speech on the Senate floor this afternoon, Sen. Bill Nelson provided an update on the Commerce Committee’s probe of the Takata Corporation and the recall of millions of defective airbags manufactured by the company.
“Now, I’d like to provide the Senate with an update about what every senator has had their attention called to, the Takata airbag recall. We’ve seen five deaths, we’ve seen a spate of serious injuries related to these defective airbags. One of the deaths occurred right in my home state of Florida. And through my position of working with the chairman of the Commerce Committee, John Thune, I have been pushing Takata and the automakers to speed up fixes for these defective air bags.
“People are driving around with a lethal bomb in their steering wheel, and if it’s defective and it goes off, they are filled with shrapnel. That has killed five people; that’s documented. In this country, it’s killed five people. Nobody ought to be driving, therefore, a car for months when, in fact, they have a known defect that can seriously kill them.
“Well, it’s just not acceptable. And progress has been painfully slow. And we received a letter from NHTSA noting that only two million of the 17 million vehicles recently recalled – two million of 17 million are – that’s all that’s been repaired as of the end of last year. And that letter notes that Takata has continued to stonewall NHTSA’s requests for documents related to the defect. It’s now being fined $14,000 a day until they start cooperating fully.
“And they’ve also failed to produce a number of critical documents that the Commerce Committee has requested as part of its investigation into this mess.
“Earlier today, Senator Thune and I sent a letter to Takata again, requesting that they turn over these documents to the committee as soon as possible so that we can complete our investigation into how this mess happened and, very importantly, how we can get people’s cars fixed so they’re not driving around with this bomb about to explode in their steering wheel.
“Safety can’t wait.“
March 12, 2015
Mr. Shigehisa Takada
Chairman and Chief Executive Officer
c/o Takata Holdings
2500 Takata Drive
Auburn Hills, MI 48326
Dear Mr. Takada:
On November 24, 2014, then Chairman Rockefeller, along with Senator Nelson, sent you a written request for information and documents related to the Takata Corporation’s manufacturing and distribution of defective airbags that have been linked to at least six deaths and a number of serious injuries in the United States.
In response to the Committee’s request, Takata, through its counsel, has provided two productions of information and documents to the Committee. Unfortunately, these productions have not fully addressed several of the Committee’s requests, including Requests 2-6, 10, 11, 16 and 17.
On March 4, 2015, Takata representatives provided Committee staff with a confidential briefing regarding the outstanding production, as well as an update on Takata’s internal efforts to test potentially defective airbag inflators and increase production of replacement inflators. During that meeting, Takata representatives stated that another production of previously requested documents would be delivered to the Committee the week of March 9, 2015. In particular, Committee staff was informed that the follow-up productions would include:
- once located, a March 2011 e-mail from Guillermo Apud titled, “Defectos y defectos y defectos!!!!’ that stated, when translated into English, ‘A part that is not welded = one life less, which shows we are not fulfilling the mission,” along with all emails replying to or forwarding that email referenced as part of Request 6;
- a copy of the May 2011 internal Takata safety inspection of the Monclova, Mexico production facility and any associated documents also referenced as part of Request 6;
- the corporate organizational charts referenced in Request 16; and
- a copy of Takata’s document retention policies referenced in Request 17.
We appreciate Takata’s commitment to deliver outstanding responsive documents to the Committee as soon as possible. Accordingly, we write to confirm that the documents identified above will be delivered to the Committee no later than March 13, 2015. We also understand that you will provide the updated response to Request 12 as soon as possible, and that those documents responsive to Requests 2-6, 10 and 11 and all further documents responsive to the November 24, 2015 letter will be provided on a rolling basis, to the extent that they are currently available to Takata. We ask that you confirm these understandings in writing.
Thank you for your assistance with this matter.
cc: Mr. Steven G. Bradbury
U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL)