US accuses airbag maker of faking test data

Takata reportedly fudged reports to limit the scope of airbag recalls.

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Yoshikazu Tsuno/AFP/Getty Images
Yoshikazu Tsuno/AFP/Getty Images

Takata has been in hot water over unsafe airbags for years, but there are new signs that it's particularly deep trouble. A US Senate report maintains that the vehicle part maker presented fake test data to minimize the scale of airbag recalls. In one situation, it presented bogus data to Honda about a new part. In another case, a director warned that info establishing the size of the recalls was frequently a "likely misrepresentation" of the facts, and even "technically unsupportable."

The US' National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is still poring over findings from both the Senate and a parallel report from a car manufacturer group, but it's entirely possible (if not probable) that the recalls will range even further as a result. Some, such as Florida Senator Bill Nelson, even believe that there should be a blanket recall of any Takata airbag that uses ammonium nitrate to expand in a crash. The automaker group's study concluded that the airbags explode through the combination of ammonium nitrate and a bad inflator assembly that lets moisture creep in -- drive in humid weather and those airbags can become weapons. Newer nitrate mixes might avoid this, but that may not be good enough to assuage critics.

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