Now that Key Safety Systems has announced plans to acquire Takata Corp's assets for $1.6 billion, one might expect the buyers to make a clean break with the past.
Instead, they are emphasizing continuity.
Mark Wehner, Key Safety's chief technical officer, said Monday that the company does not plan to lay off Takata employees or shut down its technical center in Japan.
Some Takata managers may remain in charge of its factories that produce airbags, steering wheels and seatbelts.
"The board and our CEO will choose the best [executives] in each area, including managers," Wehner told Automotive News. "We will choose the best of both companies."
One thing that Key will not carry on will be the production of Takata's ammonium nitrate inflators, which can explode if exposed to heat and humidity. The suburban Detroit-based airbag maker also will not assume Takata's recall-related liabilities, which could top $10 billion.
But Key Safety does want access to Takata's Japanese customers, and it's willing to use Takata resources to do so.
Key Safety has done business with Toyota, Renault Nissan, Suzuki and Isuzu. But doesn't have a big presence in Japan, and it does not currently supply Takata's largest customer, Honda Motor Co.
So the U.S. company will reach out to Japanese automakers by building a new Asian regional headquarters in Japan, said Ron Feldeisen, Key Safety's senior vice president of sales and marketing.
The company will maintain Takata's technical center in Shiga Prefecture, and it may also retain some Takata executives.
"If there is a need for Japanese people to serve our Japanese customers, I'm sure management would ultimately do that," Feldeisen said.
Scott Upham of the automotive consulting firm Valient Research in Rochester, N.Y., says Key Safety has gone to great lengths to reassure Takata customers.
"They are trying to make sure that everyone is thinking positively about this," Upham said. "They are trying to reassure customers that this is good for the industry."