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Takata admits to falsifying test data

by Justin King

US employees are said to have identified discrepancies in validation test reports performed in Japan.

Takata has admitted to falsifying validation test reports, used to certify parts for production.

The supplier's US employees reportedly spotted discrepancies in data from the test reports that were performed in Japan, leading some to believe that the components may not meet automakers' requirements, according to a Wall Street Journal report.

"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 Takata spokesperson admitted. "These lapses were and are totally incompatible with Takata's engineering standards and protocols, and we sincerely apologize to our customers, our regulators and the driving public."

The falsified reporting has been blamed on pressure to meet production deadlines, echoing the conditions that were associated with the General Motors ignition-switch defect. Takata claims the discrepancies in its validation reports are unrelated to the exploding airbag inflators, though one document sent to Honda is said to have cited a "pressure vessel failure" that was improperly categorized as normal deployment.

In its consent agreement with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Takata agreed to phase out ammonium nitrate inflators. The chemical is believed to degrade over time when exposed to humidity, eventually igniting with too much force and potentially rupturing the inflator capsule.

Highlighting the extent of the misreporting, US Takata engineer Bob Schuber in 2005 voiced frustration with his Japanese peers over falsified data. The practice was said to be "the way we do business in Japan," however it eventually went "beyond all reasonable bounds and most likely constitutes fraud."

Honda, Toyota, Ford, Nissan and Mazda have all vowed to stop using Takata's controversial airbag inflators in future vehicles. The supplier recently admitted that the departing customers represent a risk to the company's survival.

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