Troubled airbag manufacturer Takata files for bankruptcy

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Takata logo (photo by Flickr user jo.schz)

Takata logo (photo by Flickr user jo.schz)

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Troubled Japanese parts supplier Takata has filed for bankruptcy protection in Japan and the United States.

Takata’s debts have spiraled to an estimated $9 billion due to the massive recall program for defective airbags supplied to almost two dozen automakers and used in an estimated 100 million vehicles across the globe. At its peak, Takata is thought to have had a 20 percent share of the airbag market.

There have been multiple issues with Takata’s airbags but the main one involved airbag inflators that explode when the airbag is activated and blast shrapnel into the cabin. So far 17 deaths have been linked to the issue, 11 of them in the U.S.

Only about 35 percent of the defective airbags have been replaced via recalls, the first of which was announced in 2013. Takata is supplying around 30 percent of the replacement airbags, and its restructuring is not expected to cause disruption to the process which could last until 2023.

“We caused troubles for our supporters, those who cooperated with us and the creditors,” Takata Chairman Shigehisa Takada said at a press conference on Monday. “On behalf of Takata, I apologize deeply from the bottom of my heart.”

In February, Takata admitted to withholding information about the defective airbags, even after there were reported injuries. Takata also pleaded guilty in the U.S. to a criminal charge of wire fraud for which it will have to pay $1 billion, including a $125 million fund to compensate victims and their families.

The company is also selling off its remaining operations to rivals, namely Chinese-owned Key Safety Systems which is based in Michigan.

For detailed coverage on Takata, head to The Car Connection. And for a list of vehicles under recall, head to www.safercar.gov.

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