Honda Audit Finds Takata Manipulated Data Sent To Automaker

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Takata’s airbag inflator recall is the biggest safety crisis in the history of the automotive industry, and it will not go away with prayers.
Goodwill is required, as the airbag supplier might need the help of automakers and other partners to ensure the production of all the airbag inflators it must replace. According to Takata, its customers could be asked to help if it must replace over 100 million airbag inflators and the subsequent airbags.

The latest news in a long line of reports regarding the misbehavior of the once-respected automotive supplier comes in the form of the result of an ongoing audit commissioned by both Honda and Takata. Since Honda was Takata’s biggest customer, the two Japanese companies decided it was time to check how bad the situation was.

The independent audit began last October, with a few days before Honda announced the findings of data manipulation by Takata employees. The auditors discovered that Takata routinely manipulated results of airbag inflator tests.

Apparently, the Japanese supplier did this not to hide defective products in some batches, but to reduce variability in airbag inflator performance. This reduction of variability was only on paper, and was an artificial improvement to look good in a spreadsheet, but came at the cost of human life.

The reports analyzed by auditors revealed that Honda had received shorter versions of Takata’s original research, and that the automaker had been sent a “prettier” variant. As Automotive News notes, Takata’s efforts of restructuring could be hindered by the result of the audit, but it is only fair to the rest of the automotive industry to reveal this discovery.

Honda’s spokespersons have already announced that no new Acura or Honda models that are under development will be equipped with Takata-supplied inflators. Honda is also considering the possibility of recalling supplementary inflators made by Takata.

To put Takata’s airbag test manipulation into perspective, imagine you are cooking pasta every day, and you are producing a statistic of how many times you managed to make them “al dente.” So you write down each successful batch of al dente pasta, but intentionally leave out the times when you undercooked or overcooked them.

Because of manipulated statistic data, people will think you are great at cooking pasta, but there is a risk you might kill someone with your improperly cooked product. There’s your analogy, don’t forget to put salt in the water before it boils. The same thing happened with Takata airbags, but people died because of their faulty products, and much more are at risk because of it.
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About the author: Sebastian Toma
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Sebastian's love for cars began at a young age. Little did he know that a career would emerge from this passion (and that it would not, sadly, involve being a professional racecar driver). In over fourteen years, he got behind the wheel of several hundred vehicles and in the offices of the most important car publications in his homeland.
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