Shigehisa Takada, CEO of Takata Corporation and grandson of its founder, has broken his silence on the scandal surrounding the company’s use of faulty airbag components.
The company’s defective airbags are behind the largest recall in automotive history, affecting more than 53 million vehicles worldwide.
Tragically, the airbags have so far been linked with at least six deaths and over 100 injuries.
The 49 year-old Takada, whose family holds around 59 percent of the Takata company, expressed remorse at the crisis during a briefing in Japan this week.
A translation of Takada’s comments, communicated in Japanese, reads:
“I apologise from my heart to those who have died or been injured, I feel a heavy responsibility.”
Takada said that he regrets not addressing the public sooner.
"I had been in discussions with automakers and regulatory authorities. In doing so I realized how I missed several opportunities to speak and for that I apologise.”
He said that the company had identified failures in its manufacturing process, and promised that they have been resolved.
Reports that the propellant used in the airbag inflaters, ammmonium nitrate, was to blame were dismissed, however.
“We have been working with ammonium nitrate for more than 10 years, and have tested it in a variety of ways,” Takada said. “As far as I’m concerned, it is safe and reliable.”
The chemical continues to be used in the revised Takata inflaters installed in recalled and repaired vehicles.
One carmaker, Fiat Chrysler, has confirmed that, as a result of the continued use of ammonium nitrate, it will not use Takata airbags in its own repaired or new vehicles.