Takata shipped 9 million substandard seatbelts, even belts for child car seats

This 2016 photo shows child seats manufactured by Japanese auto parts maker Takata at an automaker’s showroom in Tokyo. (Reuters)


TOKYO — A former unit of bankrupt airbag maker Takata Corp shipped 9 million “substandard” seatbelts to car companies in Japan with inaccurate test data that could result in the recall of 2 million vehicles, the Nikkei newspaper reported on Friday.

This week, U.S. automotive component maker Joyson Safety Systems (JSS) said it was investigating data from the belt webbing test data over a 20-year period at the Japanese factory in Hikone it acquired from Takata in 2018. It said the inaccuracies arose before its acquisition.

“We are still investigating the matter and can’t say yet how many seatbelts were involved,” an official in charge of recalls at Japan’s transport ministry told Reuters.

The Nikkei newspaper reported that Takata had manipulated the strength-test data. It also said the disgraced company had manipulated test data on belts made for child safety seats, meaning that tens of thousands of seats on the market may be unsafe.

“We’re not aware of any belts breaking or any other accidents at this point,” a Joyson representative said of the child safety seats.

The result of the investigation will be shared with transport authorities in other countries, the official added on condition of anonymity as the probe is ongoing.

A Joyson representative in Japan did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment. The Michigan-based firm took over what was left of Takata after it went out of business.

Takata was embroiled in one Japan’s worst corporate scandals in recent years after admitting it fabricated faulty airbag inflators that could explode and send metal shrapnel into vehicle compartments.

The faulty product was linked to numerous deaths and triggered one of the industry’s biggest safety recalls.

Takata in 2017 pleaded guilty to criminal wrongdoing, saying it submitted false inflator test results to automaker clients.

JSS Japan is the top seatbelt maker in the country with a market share of about 40%, as well as just under 30% globally, according to Nikkei.


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