A former Takata engineer who blew the whistle on his employer’s potentially dangerous airbag issues is reportedly prepared to stand up and testify in court.
Speaking with Bloomberg, Mark Lillie is said to have told a US congressional committee that he is willing to testify after warning his employer of the dangers.
Takata’s airbag problems are now very much public knowledge, with more than 20 million cars around the world recalled to have defective parts replaced.
The main problem surrounds the airbag’s steel inflator units, which can crack or disintegrate upon inflation; showering the occupants with potentially-lethal metal fragments.
Mr Lillie reportedly left Takata in 1999, saying his departure was driven by a lack of action after repeated warnings from him that the airbags were faulty.
“I knew that ultimately there were going to be catastrophic failures,” Mr Lillie said.
“I didn’t want my name associated with it. I literally said that if we go forward with this, ‘somebody will be killed’.”
Takata has established an independent panel to directly target the ongoing airbag issues, and promised to make the findings public when the panel completes its report.
The company has been criticised however for replacing defective parts with similar ones, which continue to use ‘ammonium nitrate’. Mr Lillie and others believe this chemical is the reason the inflators fractured.
Whether the company can weather the storm from the airbag fiasco is another issue, with Takata reportedly close to announcing a AU$327 million loss forecast for the financial year.
Despite reportedly offering to testify when questioned by a US Senate committee last year, Mr Lillie said he hasn’t been asked to do so yet.
A separate report last year claimed Takata tried to cover up the airbag faults when they first came to light, following internal testing of the defective components.