No automaker wants to get caught up in the biggest safety recall in U.S. history, but that's exactly where John Mendel -- American Honda Motor Co.'s executive vice president and head of Honda and Acura divisions -- has found himself as a result of the ongoing Takata inflator crisis.
Rather than hide from the problem, which affected 15 automakers and 70 million airbag inflators in the U.S., Mendel, 62, and his team tackled the recalls head-on. As co-leader of Honda's Takata response committee, Mendel pushed for action and transparency to find the 10.7 million Hondas and Acuras impacted.
As a result, Honda has taken aggressive and unusual action to find vehicles that could still hold potentially fatal inflators: The company has scoured salvage yards to buy affected modules so they stay off the streets, hired private investigators to track down vehicles, worked with third-party software providers and body shops to identify relevant vehicle identification numbers and is paying dealers for the depreciation of Honda vehicles that they can't sell because of open recalls.
The Takata episode wasn't Honda's creation, but Mendel and the automaker have made sure Honda is part of the solution.