Juichiro Takada communicates closely with the Big 3.
Why does Takata have good relations with Detroit automakers when many other companies say they find dealing with the Big 3 frustrating?
I don't know. I am struggling to find out why people say that. An important issue, possibly, is that we are always in close communication with our customers. And we show any advancement we make to see whether they can incorporate it into their cars.
What lessons did Takata learn from the 1995 safety recall in which your company had to replace almost 9 million seat belt buckles?
That was a good lesson for us to improve the quality of our systems. If we lose sight of quality, this could occur again. So we are very, very serious about protecting against this so that it doesn't happen again. We have shipped over 500 million seat belts since then. Quality is our number one priority.
Do you see a way to improve safety belts' ability to save lives by going from a three-point system to a harnesslike four-point system? Or is there another type of belt that is better?
We favor the four-point system, but there is always a problem when it comes to the anchorage. The upper portion, or the back of the seat, needs to be made stronger. And it also has some challenges in comfort.
Also, here in the United States, the legal requirement needs a small amendment to allow the four-point system. But if we find a good seat and a four-point system workable, we will ask the government, any government, to accommodate the four-point systems.
Your engineers are working on something called an air-belt safety system. Can you explain how that works?
Air belt integrates airbag and seat-belt technologies. The seat belt will inflate to protect drivers and passengers from injuries in an emergency. From my personal view, it is very effective.
Aging societies in the U.S., Japan and Europe will need seat-belt systems that provide more buffering. At this point it is too expensive to be put into production. But economies of scale are possible.
What is the best way to improve the safety of pedestrians: with external airbags or hoods that deform on impact?
It depends on the design of the car. With some cars it is difficult to have any deformation areas, while others easily accommodate that.
It also depends upon what kinds of pedestrian safety we are trying to improve.
At the beginning, we are trying to reduce heavy injuries and deaths. We are working on some of the air- bag systems and a safer hood and grille system. Some of the airbags would deploy from under the windshield.
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