Airbag Maker Takata Faces Tough Day on Capitol Hill

Airbag Maker Takata Faces Tough Day on Capitol Hill

Embattled auto supplier Takata will be under the microscope Thursday when a Senate panel opens a probe into the Japanese company's dangerously defective airbags.

NEW YORK — Embattled auto supplier Takata (IW 1000/904) will be under the microscope Thursday when a Senate panel opens a probe into the Japanese company's dangerously defective airbags, installed in millions of cars worldwide.

Witnesses will include Takata's top quality assurance executive and officials from Honda and Chrysler, as well as a woman who has sued over allegations that shrapnel from an exploding Takata airbag struck her in the eye.

Also testifying will be a top official with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which Tuesday urged a nationwide recall of Takata airbags.

Takata is accused of knowing for years about the problem, in which its airbags can misfire and send shrapnel into a car's passengers, and of having covered up its own tests showing dangerous faults in the airbags.

At least five driver deaths and numerous injuries have been linked to the faulty airbags.

The company confirmed last week that it is facing a criminal investigation by the US Justice Department.

The US Senate Commerce Committee is expected to press Takata, automakers, and the NHTSA hard on why recalls have been piecemeal.

So far this year some 16 million vehicles from 10 automakers worldwide have been recalled.

The affected automakers are Honda, BMW, Chrysler, Ford, General Motors, Mazda, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Subaru, and Toyota.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2014

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