Takata Corp.’s days as a leading auto parts supplier may be numbered after three leading automakers announced that they would no longer buy airbags from the company. Honda, Toyota and Mazda have all announced in recent days that it would not use inflators believed to be the cause of at least eight deaths and more than 100 injuries in the U.S.
Honda was the first to make this announcement, which came as a surprise, despite the fact that it and Toyota had to issue the most auto recalls to fix defective Takata airbags. Toyota and Mazda quickly followed suit. Subaru and Mitsubishi are also reportedly considering a similar move, Automotive News says.
As we have discussed before on this blog, no one yet knows for sure what caused the Takata airbags to inflate with too much force, but many experts believe that the inflators, which use ammonium nitrate, are to blame. The auto companies say they will not install Takata’s ammonium nitrate inflators. “What’s most important above anything else,” the president of Toyota said at a news conference, “is the safety and peace of mind of customers.”
They say money talks. Beyond the deaths and injuries, losing its biggest clients may spur Takata to change the way it designs and manufactures airbags, which are, of course, supposed to save lives, not take them. Another way to encourage this is for victims to stand up for their rights and seek compensation in court. Avoiding future litigation can be a powerful motivator in the business world.