TOKYO -- Takata Corp., the Japanese airbag supplier at the center of a safety crisis, widened its annual loss forecast and warned it can’t estimate the full financial liability as regulators urge automakers to speed up recalls.
The Tokyo company expects a 25 billion yen ($218 million) loss this fiscal year, compared with its August forecast for a record 24 billion yen net loss, Takata said today in a statement. Takata also said it’s difficult to estimate the amount of damage claims it has received in the U.S.
Takata said it will also skip a dividend -- the first time it did not offer a payout since it was listed in 2006.
Today’s statement marks a reversal for the company, which booked a 45 billion yen charge in the first quarter and said last month that additional costs related to recalls would be limited.
The Japanese automotive safety equipment maker has been beset by chronic problems with defective inflators in its airbags, which can explode with excessive force and spray metal shards inside the vehicle. The airbags, used by many leading carmakers, are the focus of an U.S. regulatory probe and have prompted the recall of some 17 million cars worldwide in the past six years.
Before a packed briefing room at the Tokyo Stock Exchange, Yoichiro Nomura, Takata's executive vice president and CFO, bowed in apology to customers affected by the recalls.
"We would like to apologize for worrying and concerning all our customers, automakers and shareholders who have been affected by repeated recalls of cars with our airbags," he said.
Nomura said the forecasts were calculated on the assumption that Takata, with "manufacturer's liability," will bear the full cost of the recalls. He said he was unaware of any discussions with automakers about sharing recall costs.
Takata said it had not heard of any orders being cancelled for the current second half of this year.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration asked Takata and 10 automakers, including Honda Motor Co. and Toyota Motor Corp., to speed up repairs on recalled vehicles in humid areas amid concerns moisture is contributing to malfunctioning airbags.
Takata airbags have been linked to at least four deaths and 139 injuries as they explode with too much force and shoot shrapnel at occupants, according to class-action lawsuits filed last month.
“Depending on what the root cause is, it may be nonsense for automakers to limit their recalls to humid areas,” Keiichi Hori, a professor at University of Tokyo whose areas of research include the combustion mechanism for airbag inflators. “In that case, recalls should be expanded.”