TOKYO (Bloomberg) -- Takata Corp. said it will fix lapses identified by the Mexico government at the same airbag plant that Toyota Motor Corp. prevented its own employees from visiting for unspecified safety concerns.
Takata will address by January the remaining 26 of 171 health and safety measures ordered by a Mexican government agency after an inspection four months ago, Alby Berman, a spokesman for the Tokyo-based company, said in an e-mail. Toyota told a U.S. regulator last month that an on-site review of the plant “was not possible due to internal travel restrictions for the safety of our associates.”
Toyota is among carmakers relying on this Takata factory in Monclova, Mexico, to produce replacements for flawed devices made at the same plant years earlier and installed in more than 13 million cars that have since been recalled worldwide. Five deaths and more than 100 injuries have been linked to the airbags, which have ruptured and sent metal shards into motorists.
“It kind of raises a red flag,” Jochen Siebert, managing director at JSC Automotive Consulting, said of Toyota’s unwillingness to send employees to Takata’s plant. “They don’t want to be too close to Takata at this point. The OEMs are starting to backtrack, including and especially Honda.”
Honda Motor Co., Takata’s biggest customer, has turned to Autoliv Inc. and may tap Daicel Corp. to help increase airbag parts supplies.
Of the 171 measures raised by Mexico’s labor ministry, four were “non-conformance” related problems and have been addressed, Berman said. The remainder were observations or opportunities for improvement, he said.
John Hanson, a Toyota spokesman, said he was unaware of the specific internal constraints that prevented the company from visiting the factory and couldn’t immediately comment.
During the second congressional hearing to scrutinize the company in as many weeks, Executive Vice President Hiroshi Shimizu said on Dec. 3 that Takata had taken measures at the Mexico plant to address issues that have contributed to its airbag flaws.
U.S. Rep. Diana DeGette, D-Colo., who serves on the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, said in an e-mailed statement following the hearing that problems in Takata’s Mexico factory showed “fundamental problems with this company.”
Honda this week said it will expand a regional U.S. recall nationwide, adding to the almost 5.2 million cars included in previous safety campaigns related to Takata. Honda reached an agreement with Autoliv for the Stockholm-based company to deliver replacement airbag inflators within about six months, according to a statement.
The U.S.-wide recall by Honda followed Takata’s refusal to declare a defect and initiate nationwide recalls for several of the nine other automakers it’s supplied airbags to in the country.
Honda has reported four U.S. deaths related to Takata’s airbags in its cars, as well as one fatal accident in Malaysia that killed a pregnant woman and her unborn child.