Takata Corp. Chairman and CEO Shigehisa Takada appeared in front of the media on Thursday and indicated that he doesn’t intend to resign from his post, adding that the firm still has no clear vision of when it may be able to pinpoint the cause of defective air bags.
“I am truly sorry for the people who passed away and were injured” due to accidents caused by the air bag inflator exploding, Takada said during a news conference following the firm’s annual shareholders meeting in Tokyo.
Asked if he plans to step down from his position, he said: “We feel deeply responsible that our products caused the troubles.”
However, Takada also said “I think dealing with this issue in a sincere manner and providing safety to the customers is the most important thing that I need to do,” suggesting that he intends to stay in his post.
The defective air bag problem is estimated to have killed at least eight people and injured about 130 others. Takata, carmakers, regulators and third parties are investigating in a bid to pinpoint the cause of the defect, which can make the air bags inflate with too much force and shatter their metal and plastic components.
German-based Fraunhofer Institute’s interim report says that the problem seems to be due to several factors, such as leaving vehicles in places with high temperature and humidity, and variations in the output quality of the manufacturing process.
These might cause moisture to get inside the inflator and the gas forming agent, which could facilitate burning velocity.
As for when the root causes can be identified, Takata said it is still unclear.
In addition, Takata posted a ¥58.6 billion extraordinary loss due to the cost of dealing with the problem in fiscal 2014. The firm said it has been unable to estimate how much more it will need to spend to fix the air bag problem.
The company will continue to work to resolve the air bag issue, Takada said.
Takada, 49, and his mother, Akiko, own about 5 percent of the Tokyo-based company’s shares. Another 52 percent is owned by TKJ KK, an investment firm that lists the family as board members.
Takata has fallen 38 percent in Tokyo trading in the past 12 months, a period during which Japan’s benchmark Topix index has gained 33 percent.
Former President Stefan Stocker will step down from the board when his term ends this month. Stocker, a Swiss who began his career at Robert Bosch GmbH in June 1982, joined Takata as an executive officer in February 2013.
The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has lowered its estimate of how many Takata air bag inflators need replacing to 32 million from 34 million, NHTSA Administrator Mark Rosekind said. He said the agency is still trying to get a firm count.
Information from Kyodo, Bloomberg added