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tv   Takata Airbag Defects  CSPAN  December 7, 2014 3:25am-5:50am EST

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sooner. in both the gm and takata cases, nhtsa has been criticized for failing to recognize and act quickly enough as evidence mounted of deadly auto defects. our bill provides more resources to give them the additional enforcement authority, and increases the fines for manufacturers that violate safety vehicle safety laws. mr. chairman, today we'll learn of other needed fixtures to the current peter welch system. i think our legislation is a good place to start. while i have a very short time left i'd like to yield it to the gentleman from vermont the balance of my time. >> thank you very much. the two concerns i have that i hope are addressed in this is one, public safety. obviously automobiles are extremely important, but can be dangerous, with the defect. and number two, public confidence. when a serious incident happens that threatens the life, causes
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the life, it creates an immense amount of insecurity among the driving public and obviously my view the burden has to be on the manufacturer and our governmental agencies to take the appropriate steps to revive and restore public confidence. thank you. >> thank you. now, it's the appropriate time to introduce the panel. i'll introduce the panel as a whole, and then we'll start with takata as the first speaking witness. so today our first panel representing takata, hiroshi shimizu. shimizu, sorry. >> yes. >> from honda, rick schostek. from bmw, chris westbrook. from toyota, abbas saadat. appreciate all of you being here. we will go from right -- on my
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left, your right, and start with mr. shimizu. but before i ask you to start, i want to recognize that you're appearing with a translator, because english is not mr. shimizu's first language, and while the committee will allow mr. shimizu to confer with the translator for the purpose of clarification, he will be required to answer the committee's question in his own voice, and in english. we've already discussed that, and i appreciate your acceptance of that. so, mr. shimizu you are now recognized for five minutes. >> thank you. chairman terry, ranking member schakowsky, and distinguished members of the subcommittee, i'm honored to be here on behalf of takata corporation.
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mr. chairman, takata is dedicated to making products that save lives. millions of takata airbags have inflated properly, preventing thousands of deaths and avoiding serious injuries in hundreds of thousands of accidents around the world. but any failure of even one airbag to perform as designed in automobile accident is incompatible with takata's mission. all of us at takata know that the airbag ruptures that have been the subject of recent recalls involve serious issues of public safety. we are deeply sorry about each case where takata's airbag had not performed as designed, and the driver or passenger has suffered personal injuries or death. takata is working closely with
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the automakers and nhtsa to support the ongoing recalls and the field actions and to address the potential for. we are increasing our production of kits to fulfill the automakers' orders. we're also devoting extensive efforts, and attention to answering requests for information about these motors from nhtsa and other investigators. we are committed to bring -- being fully transparent with the government. our one important function -- for testing and analysis. in the past several months, we have tested thousands of returned inflaters in our michigan facilities, and we are increasing our testing capacity.
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we regularly share all of these test results with the automakers, and nhtsa. based on the data currently available, and our best engineering judgment, takata continues to believe that the public safety is best served if the area of high absolute humidity remain the priority. for the replacement of suspect inflaters. but make no mistake, we will take all actions necessary to advance the goal of safety for the driving public. including working to produce additional replacement units to support any further recalls that may be announced by automakers. takata is also prepared to cooperate where feasible with other producers to create additional production capacity for replacement units.
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we are confident that the inflaters we are producing today are safe. because we have confidence in the integrity of our engineering, and our current manufacturing processes here in the united states and across the world. we believe that properly manufactured and installed, the inflaters we are producing today will work as designed to save lives for the expected life of the automobiles. to provide added assurance for the public and the automakers, takata is forming an independent quality assurance panel to audit and prepare an independent report regarding our current
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manufacturing processes for the production of safe inflaters, including inflater --. upon completion the panel's report will be made public. rick schostek thank you, mr. chairman. >> thank you. now, gentleman from honda, mr. schostek, you are recognized for your five minutes. >> mr. chairman, ranking member schakowsky and members of the subcommittee, thank you for this opportunity to testify. my name is rick schostek. i'm executive vice president with honda north america. i want to begin by expressing our deepest sympathies to those individuals and families who have been affected by these tragic incidents. we offer our sincere apologies to the families of those who have died, who have been injured, or who have been in any way inconvenienced due to the defects in the takata airbags in our vehicles. airbags save thousands of lives each year, but we recognize that
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even one customer who is injured or loses their life when an airbag does not perform as intended is one too many, and it is completely unacceptable. on november 17th, nhtsa called for a nationwide recall of the driver airbag inflaters that have been included in the regional safety improvement campaign undertaken in four states and territories with consistently high absolute humidity. we understand that takata has not identified or acknowledged any defect of the driver airbag inflaters. and thus far, takata has not announced plans to follow nhtsa's request for a national recall. we want to inform you that honda is going to expand our existing regional safety improvement campaign on affected driver airbag inflaters to a national campaign.
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why are we doing this? because our customers have concerns, and we want to address them. we believe this expansion and acceleration of current action, we believe there will be a part shortage that may occur. despite takata's efforts to increase the supply of inflaters. to further increase the part supply, we have been in discussions with takata, and two other supplier ss auto leave and disel about expanding the production of replacement inflaters. these talks have been encouraging and we believe will ultimately reduce the duration of any shortage. however, until those parts are available, we will continue to discuss with nhtsa and takata how to best manage the supply issue. based on the information from
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them, we believe it is best to prioritize the replacement of driver airbag inflaters in what are considered to be the highest risk areas in the country. in addition, honda believes that all stakeholders would benefit from expert third party testing of takata airbag inflaters that was announced yesterday as a industrywide program. by coming togeher as an industry and sharing information and testing and with takata's continued cooperation we believe we can achieve greater results more quickly. let me briefly summarize how we got to this point. between 2008 to 2014, honda has conducted seven national recalls related to specific takata manufacturing defects. since june of 2014, honda, along with other automakers, mass been supporting nhtsa's request to conduct regional safety
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improvement campaigns in states and territories with high absolute humidity. we understand the urgency of the current situation and we have been taking pro-active steps to address the needs of our customers. in addition to the required first class mail notification, we have made hundreds of thousands of phone calls, used overnight mail delivery, and routinely sent letters in both english and spanish. we have also hired a search firm to help us locate hard-to-find customers in some circumstances. and importantly, for customers whose vehicles cannot be immediately repaired, honda has instructed our dealers to provide loaner or rental cars at no cost to the customer. to summarize, we are going to expand the safety improvement campaign on affected driver bag inflaters nationwide.
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prioritizing the high risk areas. we are working with multiple suppliers to increase parts availability. and we are participating in the joint industry research effort. our entire company is operating with the greatest energy and focus to quickly address our customers needs and concerns in the days ahead with every action of our company we are dedicating ourselves to honor the relationship we have with our customers. thank you. >> now mr. west brook you are now recognized for five minutes. >> thank you, mr. terry, ranking member schakowsky and members of the subcommittee. >> start again. >> thank you chairman terry, ranking member schakowsky and members of the subcommittee for your invitation to participate in today's hearing. my name is craig westbrook, vice president of bmw of north
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america. i'm here on behalf of our company, representing the 70,000 people who have jobs provided and supported by the bmw group in the united states. in total the bmw group's presence is represented in 48 states. this includes our north american headquarters in new jersey, our financial services in ohio, and our manufacturing facility in spartanburg, south carolina. just to name a few locations. in fact, bmw group's south carolina production site is the largest single exporter of vehicles by value in the united states of america. the bmw group has been to the united states -- in the united states for nearly four decades. we have worked hard to become part of the fabric of the communities in which we are present. central to our investments in and commitment to the united states has been a focus on earning our reputation for delivering on our word. and, building trust with customers and communities alike. vehicle safety is fundamental to the bmw group. because of this, i highly
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appreciate the opportunity to appear today before this subcommittee. i will share a brief time line of bmw north america's activities related to takata airbag recalls. in may of 2013, after takata informed bmw america of production issues with certain inflaters, we initiated a voluntary national safety recall. this involved the passenger front airbag on approximately 42,000 model year 2000 and 2003 bmw vehicles. in may of 2014, nhtsa met with takata to discuss consumer reported issues with certain passenger and driver airbag inflaters. in mid june, after follow-up calls with takata, nhtsa opened a preliminary evaluation. in an unprecedented approach to determine the root cause, and the potential safety risk, nhtsa held a conference call with all affected automakers. during this call, automakers were asked for their support to conduct a voluntary parts collection campaign in specific, high-humidity regions.
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bmw north america promptly agreed to participate in this campaign. in july of 2014, out of an abundance of caution, bmw of north america expanded its voluntary campaign and previous 2013 recall of passenger front airbags. on july 15th, 2014, bmw north america notified nhtsa of the voluntary nationwide recall of an additional 574,000 vehicles. the next day, july 16th, 2014, bmw dealers were notified of the recall, after notification to nhtsa. standard practice for notifying customers involves an auto company preparing a draft customer notification letter for nhtsa's review. in late august nhtsa approved our letter. bmw of north america mailed notification letters to our customers in mid-september, using first class mail, as required by nhtsa regulation. another way customers are informed of recalls is at our dealerships. when a customer visits a
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dealership, the service adviser at every bmw dealer conducts a vehicle inquiry for outstanding recalls. once the vin is identified the service adviser cross references the vin against our recall database. if applicable, customers are informed that their vehicle is subject to a recall. repairs are either taken care of on the spot, or an appointment is scheduled as soon as possible. we have also made the recall information available on our consumer site, bmwusa.com. additionally, the information is also available on the nhtsa site, www.safercar.gov. on either side customers have the ability to access recall information just by entering their vin. we even issued a press release regarding the takata airbag recall for bmw. in total, this voluntary nationwide recall affects approximately 616,000 model year
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2000 to 2006 3 series vehicles. nhtsa estimates over 7.8 million vehicles industrywide are currently affected by the takata airbag recall and parts collection campaign in the united states. bmw of north america is also currently conducting a voluntary regional parts collection campaign in certain states. this campaign affects the drivers front airbag on approximately 11,600 model year 2004 to model year 2006 bmw 3 series vehicles. we are significantly increasing our loaner fleet to provide any bmw customer who needs a loaner, rental vehicle, or alternate transportation of the customer's wish. i can assure the subcommittee that bmw of north america will continue working with nhtsa and takata on these issues. we will remain vigilant in identifying safety issues. and pro-active in addressing them. thank you for your time and attention. >> thank you, mr. westbrook.
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now mr. saadat you are recognized for your five minutes. [inaudible] >> chairman terry, ranking member schakowsky, and members of the committee thank you for inviting me here today. my name is abbas saadat and i'm the regional product safety executive and vice president of toyota north america. i am a senior executive in the united states responsible for toyota's interaction with nhtsa, and currently have oversight responsibility for field action in the u.s. regarding the takata airbag inflater recalls. i am an engineer by training and function. first, toyota shares your goals of helping those affected by these recalls, and keeping them safe. we are committed to resolve this issue for our customers as quickly, conveniently, and safely as possible. we believe the actions we have taken reflect this commitment. from the beginning toyota has responded to defect information from takata coordinated with nhtsa and supported takata and nhtsa in their ongoing investigation. in april of 2013, toyota launched a nationwide recall for
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front passenger airbag inflaters. this recall is still in effect today. in june of this year we expanded the remedy for this recall to replace all affected takata inflaters. also in june in response to nhtsa's request to industry, we were among the first automakers to recover airbag inflaters for testing by takata. in october, takata provided testing data toyota and nhtsa that suggested the safety risk was highest in the area of consistently high absolute humidity. in response, we intensified our effort to reach customers in those humid areas, which was publicized nationwide. throughout these recalls we have worked to alert customers and get them the information they need. beyond our initial national outreach, we have mailed more than 300,000 notification letters to known owners in designated humid regions. we also have made it easier for
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customers to find recall information on toyota's website. in addition, we have started a secondary customer outreach program in humid areas that include telephone calls, e-mail, and direct mail. and we are staffing our call centers to handle any increase in takata related inquiries. at the same time we are working to get replacement parts to toyota dealers, and this effort is going well in humid regions. if parts are unavailable we have empowered dealers to meet our customers' needs, and minimize their inconvenience. for example, in humid areas, dealers can disable the front passenger airbag and affix a prominent glove box label that warns against using that seat until a replacement inflater is installed. dealers are also making loaner vehicles available and towing affected vehicles for customers, if necessary. to this point, the faster we get
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replacement parts, the faster we can fix our customers' vehicles. takata estimates that its supply will increase significantly starting this month. like you, we want additional assurances about the integrity and quality of takata's manufacturing processes, particularly in the light of previous experiences. for instance, in 2010, toyota had to recall certain takata inflater in japan to address a different manufacturing problem not involving u.s. vehicles. in terms of testing, we have conducted and continue to conduct some testing on takata inflaters, and we have also inspected takata production facilities. additionally, we have retained an independent engineering firm to evaluate affected takata inflaters, and replacement parts. separately, toyota is inviting all affected automakers to participate in a joint industrywide initiative to conduct independent testing of
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takata airbag inflaters. toyota will further address the issue of testing in our response to nhtsa's recent general order, and ongoing communications with the agency. again, our nationwide recall remains in effect, and we plan to replace all involved inflaters as parts become lee terry available. in closing, toyota is taking this issue very seriously. we will continue to respond promptly to new developments, and do what's best for our customers. thank you. and i'm happy to answer your questions. >> thank you, mr. saadat. at this time, we are now to the question and answer period. and i have the opportunity to ask the first questions. mr. shimizu? >> yes. >> following nhtsa's june, i think it was 19th, 2014 request that takata and ten vehicle manufacturers to participate in a regional field action, how
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many passenger side and driver side airbag inflaters have been tested to this date? so june 14th to today. >> to my knowledge, up to today, we complete the test around 4,000 pieces. >> now the 4,000 tests, are they evenly divided between passenger and driver side? >> it's most of the product is the passenger side, and i think for driver side tested quantities about, i believe, around 400. >> 400? >> yeah. 400. >> so 3600 of the tests were on the passenger side. >> yes. >> so out of the 3600 on the
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passenger side airbags, how many ruptures have occurred? >> it's -- i don't have accurate number but i believe around a little bit less than 60. >> less than 60. ok. how about on the driver's side of the 400 that was tested? >> zero at this moment. >> zero. how many tests are you doing currently, per day? >> currently we are testing about 100 inflaters per day. >> 100 what per day? >> 100 pieces. >> pieces, are those all passenger or again is it both? >> it's sometimes only passenger side. sometimes only driver side. or mixed. it depends on what kind of inflater we collected from the region. >> very good.
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then, with your continued stance on opposing a national recall, what about takata's test results leads you to believe that a national recall of all drivers side airbags is not needed or appropriate? >> based on the data we are collecting from the inflater from region, and also other regions the data still support that we should remain focused on the region with high temperature and high humidity. >> ok. now the crashes in california and north carolina led nhtsa to believe that takata airbag inflaters pose a risk outside of the states with high absolute humidity. so why do you disagree with nhtsa's conclusion here?
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>> first, let me just state what i mentioned in opening statement. we are not opposing that the nhtsa direction. we commit to take any action necessary to advance the goal of safety for the driving public. that also includes the work to produce -- working to produce the initial replacement kits to support the further recall announced by automakers. so once automakers decided to expand or change the range of recalls, we support it. and regarding your question about california event and north carolina event. california event is covered by current recall, but also i want to explain that it's a -- we do some investigation about the event, but it is not completed
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yet, and still under investigation. and regarding the event in north carolina, at this time we had no chance to check the vehicles, and the actual materials. we only have the production serial number information, and the pictures. so we will do the inspect the actual vehicles later together with nhtsa and automakers and takata. >> very good. well, i only have 28 seconds left so i'll yield back my time and recognize the ranking member from illinois. for five minutes. >> thank you, mr. chairman. in the letter takata sent to nhtsa yesterday, the company rejected a national recall. your director of product safety wrote that, quote, under the
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nhtsa statute only manufacturers of motor vehicles and replacement equipment are decided to require in good faith where their products contain a safety related defect and if so, to conduct a recall. end quote. and mr. chairman, i would like to submit this letter for the record. >> without objection, so ordered. >> let me ask hiroshi shimizu you, do you agree with the conclusion in the letter sent by your company yesterday? so do you believe takata is not requireded in good tate to decide if your products contain a safety-related defect. >> congresswoman, i agree with that statement. >> so are you telling us that your company has no legal responsibilities to determine if air bags are defective and to recall them? >> if the products are defective and supported by scientific study, we are responsible for
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that. >> so you believe that you are responsible for that if they are found to be defective, but it's really up to you to decide that? >> yes, we need extensive research of the products involved in the the -- so once we decided, we determine if it's defective. yes, it's our responsibility. >> so moving forward, takata will be removing millions of replacement air bags. are the replacement air bags that you're having installed as a result of the recall safe? >> yes. we've had issues in the past.
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-- manufacturing processes processes -- >> so you believe that you have in fact discovered the root cause of the ruptures? >> excuse me? >> are you sure that takata has discovered the root cause of the air bag ruptures? >> yes. we identified root cause of the the issues, of the products we did the recall in the past. however, we still complete the the investigation to happen in an area with high humidity and high temperatures. we need to continue to investigate. >> so are you saying that it is
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only in high humidity areas that this is is a problem? that that is the root cause? >> it's a main contribution to the problem is high temperature and high humidity together with the age of the products and that's why we're collecting data with support, and continue to analyze this. >> interesting. so who is the highest ranking takata official that is actually signed off on production of the air bags that are now being recalled? the ones that are -- the ones that are being recalled? who is the highest ranking official that signed off on that? >> it's any related issues, i usually sign. >> you sign. ok.
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and who is the highest ranking takata official with oversight over the production approval process? >> usually signed by head of operation and also -- which means i sign. >> ok. and let me just ask each of the manufacturers, oh, wait, one more question for you, mr. shimitzu. have any of these individuals been held accountable for these? >> can i ask? >> yes. >> have there been consequences? >> we are more focused on correcting the problem, and we are not addressing that area yet. >> but let me quickly can i ask, just yes or no. are toyota, honda, and bmw cars on the road right now
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nationally, both for drivers and passengers with takata air bags safe? the real question is would you tell your children and spouses there is no danger of this type of rupture, so keep on driving? >> we want our customers to be safe. as you've heard, there are national recalls in effect. we want our customers to first understand that we are subject to a recall. they can do that by checking the website, by calling us or by visiting the local detailer. if they are, we want that car. we want to replace that car. if they are not subject to a raum, we believe they are safe in those cars. >> yes. >> please keep in mind, for vehicles, the problematic inflaters are all on the passenger side, not driver's side. i just want to make that clear
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for toyota vehicles. >> how do you know that? all the deaths were on the driver's side. all the deaths -- >> i understand. i can remember rolling a flawed tire down this very dais about ten years ago really seeking action and we did it. we worked at the end of the session, we significantly raised the fines, and we added criminal sanctions for violations. jail. it was tough to get through, but we got it done. and i want to say it was certainly bipartisan and it was
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pretty close to unanimous in terms of what we did. really that did was forcing the manufacturers to share details with the regulator to make sure that consumers -- us -- gt got the information and felt safe behind the wheel. now, there's a report that dame out this morning. i've not read it. just literally within the last half hour or so. but it says reuters is reporting today that takata ran an investigation into an airbag inflater that ruptured in a bmw as early as 2003. and that additional testing for air bag inflater defects was done in 2004. ten years ago. that was the time when we were passing the tread act.
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both of these revelations would indicate that takata was investigating this has ard well before it has been previously disclosed. are they related to the current recall? > my answer is no. regarding the incident in 2003, to my knowledge it happened in europe i believe switzerland, and that cause of the problem the issue we are talking about right now.
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so it is not the same as the problems we are discussing right now. >> so they are not related is what you're saying. >> not related to the current issue. >> so do you know whether the issue today is manufacturing related or is it a design flaw in the inflater itself. do you know the answer to that question? yes or no?
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>> it is. >> it is manufacture related. ok. mr. shasta, in 2011, toyota relaid a code that could have reported the accuracy rick schostek of the early warning reports, and additionally in 2012, nhtsa made honda aware that it was underreporting claims.
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why didn't follow up with the action? >> thank you. and i understand your involvement in the establishment of the act more than ten years ago, and i can understand the disappointment you feel by the shortcomings that have been evidenced by our company, and i want to explain to you what happened. the problem that we had with underreporting in the act is a systematic problem that began at the the outset. as you know, it went into effect in 2003. they did not properly program computers and set up systems that would at accurately let data flow and feed into treasury reports. it is difficult for me to say, sir, but that setup continued unchecked until 2011, 2012. you are right that an internal honda associate did mention a concern, as well as a discussion with nhtsa. they asked about the omission of certain incidents in our tread report. we did look into that, sir, in early 2012. we did not look at that effectively. we took action to address that one problem, but sir it did not complete our compliance requirements. >> can i ask for an additional minute just to say. >> without objection. >> and we're going to be asking nhtsa who was found. you did correct it with nhtsa, is that right?
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you did fess up to nhtsa, right? >> in 2012 we had a problem of converting oral claims to ritten claims. mr. chairman, we did not close the the loop with nhtsa, we did not act with the urgency we needed to. >> did nhtsa come back and say what happened? wiz there any dialogue? what was nhtsa's response? >> as you know, sir, we engaged a third party to do an audit in september of this year. we had a dialogue in october of this year about the preliminary findings of that audit. they actually found -- i'm glad we used an outside third party because they found two more instances of our noncompliance. so we discusseded that with nhtsa in october of this year, as you know we just submitted our on monday.
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and we're waiting for their response. but i think what we've done in the the meantime, sir is begin to fix the computer programs to provide training, to augment the staffing, but most importantly to establish accountability within our organization. there are many functions that henry waxman feed information for tread. and we did not designate a single responsible person, and that is our failing, sir. >> yield back. >> thank you. now the chair recognizes the committee member mr. waxman. >> thank you very much, plrmr. chairman. on november 18th nhtsa announced a recall of driverside air bags to a nationwide recall. on november 26th, nhtsa formally requested that takata expand to a national ecall. but yesterday takata responded
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that, quote, the currently available reliable information hiroshi shimizu does not support a nationwide determination of safety efect. quote. mr. shimizu, why does takata believe there's not enough evidence to support a national driver's side air bag recall? >> yes, congressman. we, as you know, we were correcting data, and according to the day we have, there's no -- actually zero from driver ide. nd we have some money. so based on the data, we should stay focused on this area. nd at this moment, there's not enough to change.
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that's the background. >> do you believe the same thing is food for the regional recalls of passenger side air ags? >> as i said, congressman it came from -- >> now let me see if i can understand this decision a bit more from the consumer perspective. in the continental united states, the recall only covers cars in florida, isn't that right? >> i'm talking about recalls? > yes. >> i believe the recalls cover puerto rico, hawaii and some automakers cover even more around the gulf coast. >> but if i have a car with a ta takata air bag, usually florida just south of the georgia line, it's an urgent
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matter that i bring it in for a recall. but if i instead live 15 inutes north of that line in kingsland, georgia, i gather the position is that my car is perfectly safe. is that a correct assumption? >> based on the data we collected, temperature and humidity and also dew point. we focused on that. so that covers quite a wide area. and if the vehicle is used on the outside area, request that it's rick schostek safe. >> does that make sense to you? 15 minutes north you're ok. but if you're in florida, just below the line, you got to go n and get a replacement.
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>> congressman waxman, i think it's also important as we talk about this to distinguish the recalls regarding the manufacturing defects from this more recent regional recall. i just want to make sure that the committee understands that the recalls that we conducted from 2008 through 2014, that were related to specific takata manufacturing defects, those were national in scope. so for those recalls, we believe we understand the cause of the problem. that is takata's manufacturing defects, and those cars are being called no matter where they are. but we're talking about now is from 2014 to the present. so approximately the last five months. and all of us in the industry have been asked by nhtsa to gather, to do a safety improvement campaign to gather information and bring back inflaters that are in the high humidity states.
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when we looked at that, we expanded beyond what they asked us to do. >> the idea is that if you're in certain areas the heat and humidity would require to you to comply with the regional recall, but let me just ask a different question. if i live in, say, houston, texas. it's slightly less humid there, but not by much than jacksonville, florida, can we be certain my car won't develop the same defect that perhaps two or three years later? >> that's a good question, congressman. we asked that question hiroshi shimizu ourselves. and that's why we expanded our regional recall to include texas. >> and mr. shimizu, do you still not know the theroot cause of these air ag failures? >> congressman, this question is asking about recalls --
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>> but do you know the root cause of this problem? >> at this moment, we don't have that. we know the factor may contribute to these problems. so that's why we're going to still be searching these. >> well, the confusing contrary uncertain and sometimes purely nonsensical information comes from takata is confusing to drivers. they don't know whether their cars are safe. this confusion is exacerbated by the different ways that auto manufacturers are handles the situation. for example, until this morning, honda had chosen to expand the regional rick schostek actions. 13 high humidity states and territories. this morning we learn honda will expand to a national recall on driver's side air bags. when and why did honda expand the recall to the the 13 states
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and territories? >> congressman waxman, we heard this morning about the request to takata and the answer takata gave yesterday. we have been seriously considering expanding the safety and improvement ampaign. once we understood, we decided o take action. we wanted to take care of all of our customers on a nationwide basis. however, sir, as i said in my momenting statement, we still believe the highest risk is in the southern areas, those high, humid areas and that those should be prioritized with respect to replacement parts. but we believe that our customers have concerns, and our job is to satisfy our customers. so we want to expand the recall, the safety improvement campaign to include all areas marsha blackburn of the country. again, keeping a priority on those regional areas.
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>> thank you very much. >> thanks. >> gentleman's time has expired. the chair recognizes the gentle lady from tennessee. the vice chair of the committee. full committee. >> thank you, mr. chairman. and thank you for your good work on this. and i thank our witnesses for being willing to answer these questions. because we are trying to get to the root cause of this, mr. waxman just mentioned that term and mr. shimizu, i want to go that direction with you. let's go specifically to the the november 19th new york times article that tries to give a framework, a time line, a chronology to this. we can't solve this problem, and by and large, we talked about what we're doing about this, but let's go back to how we got into this mess in the first place. and why we got into this mess in the first place. and that is covered in some
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part in this new york times article and mr. chairman, i would like to submit this for the record. it speaks to both mr. waxman's question and to mine. >> new york times article. >> without objection. so ordered. thank you, mr. chairman. from the article it says by 1999, takata researchers in michigan pressured by executives developed ed developeded but the engineering team in the plant raised objections to basing a propellant on such a risky ompound. now let's talk about that for a minute. i also found michael brenton, a takata engineer stated the following. it was a question that came up. won't that blow up? and number two, mark lily. a former senior engineer with
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takata. it's a basic design flaw that predisposes predisposes it to break apart and therefore risk catastrophic failure. these all were before you made the decision. you made the decision anyway. to move forward with this. now that's hiroshi shimizu a problem for us and for if the american consumer. and for the individuals that lost their lives or have lost their eyesight or have been hurt by this. so what was to takata's response to the concerns raised by mr. britton and mr. lily? >> congresswoman, let me explain. about the anitrate that we are using. first it's safe and stable. >> mr. shimizu, i'm sorry to interrupt you. that's not the response that
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i'm asking you for. i understand what amonium itrate is. i'm asking you -- you had two people, a senior engineer and a chemical engineer that brought t to your attention tla this was not a wise choice. i'm asking you, sir. when they brought this to your attention, what did you and your team at takata say in response to these engineers? did you blow it off and say it doesn't matter? it costs less. did you say we think you can get by with this because it's an aggressive propellant? i want to know what your response was to them. >> congresswoman, i was not here at the time, however, i
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know that's a discussion about electing them. and chemical properties and also combustionebustion characteristics of the materials and we can control -- and we can -- >> mr. shimizu, you're avoiding the question. so let's move on. what was your first date of employment with takata? when did you start to work for them? >> with takata? >> yeah. >> since 1978. >> since -- oh, so you were around? >> yeah. >> so we established that you were around in that time in '99 when this decision was made. let me ask this another way. did any other takata employees or outside parties warn takata about using amonium nitrate propellants in the air bag? anybody else?
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did you or anybody else warn hem? >> you're not aware. so you don't know if anybody else, other than these two engineers warned them that this was a really bad idea? you don't know that? >> no. >> or concerns about using an ammonium nitrate compellant used at takata? yes or no? or do you know who or when? >> can i confirm your question, please sf. >> ok, were the concerns about using ammonium nitrate as a propellant relaid to executives at takata? do you know if it made it up the food chain? >> i don't know. >> ok. well you have a good team with you.
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my time has expired. i have i've other questions. i would will submit them in john p. sarbanes writing. we would like an answer before the end of the year. yield back. >> yes. >> thank you. chair now recognizes gentleman from maryland. i'm sorry. yeah. you are recognized for five minutes. >> thank you. mr. shimizu, takata, as i understand, has agreed to the recall at its expense with respect to both driver side and passenger side air bags within the region where there are high absolute humidity, is that correct? >> yes, and you said to congressman waxman a moment ago that you do not yet know the root cause of the defect or the problem with the deployment of those air bags with respect to
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hat regional recall. is that correct? >> congressman. we don't identify the root cause yet. that's why we continue collecting the data. we have strong opinion that is a fact will contribute to this defect. >> ok. >> which is high humidity and temperature. >> mr. chairman, i'm glad to take more time than you want to give me, but the timer is not
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running. just thought -- um, that was a courtesy. i'll give that back later some time. appreciate it. my question is, if you don't know the root cause, how do you know the hiroshi shimizu replacement part that you're providing solves the problem? is it different enough in its design that you have confidence that the replacement doesn't continue to have the same problem? do you understand my question? >> the current product we are producing right now is produced from the most recent line, which is done from the previous ssues. >> ok. so the production line, the issue is that you can't yet quite identify the root cause that was part of the prior production line that created this problem, but you have confidence that as a result of the new production line, whatever that problem might
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have been is now solved going forward with respect to the replacement vehicles? mr. schostek, you implied the idea hat notwithstanding takata's decision to resist a national recall that to the extent the utomanufactures on their own initiative decided to expand a recall nationally. that's a practical matter that we could end up having a national recall. although i guess there's some differences of opinion by the manufacturers to the scope of that. i'm going to ask mr. westbrook about that in a moment. i tax it that if you on your own initiative decide to expand the recall beyond what takata has agreed to you're making the
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the decision rick schostek to at least on the front end, the expense of that replacement, air bag in place, and then i guess down the road you'll try to recover that. is that how it works? as opposed to where they've agreeded to the recall. the expense is absorbed on the front end by takata. is that right? >> congressman, for us we start and end with our customers. what's right for our customers, and that's the action we're trying to take here. it's true that an an industry, we're going to make it for our vehicles a national safety improvement campaign, it is true we have theorys, but we don't know the cause. so our interest is getting as much information as possible. it's also why it was announced yesterday, and we appreciate
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toyota's leadership on the issue that we as manufactures have decided we need to share. we need to engage an expert outside third party. takata will continue to do their tests and we'll continue to receive that information from them, but as an industry we are saying -- as an auto industry we're saying it's going to be better for all of us if we can gather information more quickly, and it's in all of our interests, congressman, to find the cause and be able to reassure all of our customers and reassure the public of safety on the the rods. >> mr. westbrook, may i ask you because i have just one minute. understand that honda supports the national recall on the driver's side air bags. and on the passenger's side, which, by the way, on the driver's side, takata cause not support that. takata does not support it on the passenger side.
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but bmw does support it on the assenger's side. although not on the driver's side. right? and that may be because bmw craig westbrook is concluding here may be some other problem specific to the passenger's side air bags that even goes eyond or is separate from from
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this other issue we been talking about. can you just briefly -- you've got 15 seconds explain this? >> we have a unique design on the the passenger side that may not be known to the committee. the passenger air bag is unique to the design and manufacturer. from takata in 2013, we had the first indicator through production processes. in 2014 they gave us another indication that due to high absolute humidity areas we might have a risk. we took a third indicator that the unique design could create the risk of additional air bag-related injuries and not related to a reptured inflatee, because as of today we had never seen one single ruptured inflater. we're trying to cover the customers. we they they deserve that. we're complying with what nhtsa has sanctioned, excuse me, the local or regional campaign, which we are working on now. we will inindependent testing. we are under contract with a well known european testing organization that tests air bag safety. this is under way. we expect to get results. we will share the results. we will collaborate. we always try to get ahead of this and just do the right thing. >> thank you. > gentleman's time has
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expired. chair joe barton now recognizes the the chairman from texas. recognized for your five minutes. >> well, thank you mr. chairman. you know. here we go again. i wasn't here for the opening statements, but it seems like every few years we have a hearing with some automobile manufacturer that they've had some sort of a defective part, and they treated it as more of a manufacturing quality control issue and not as a serious safety issue. it's ironic in that case that the part is something that is supposed to protect the driver or the passenger, and it turned out that the air bag or deflater or something in the air bag was defective. you know, it's none of us, i mean, we have some people that are technically trained on the committee. but we're not automotive engineers or safety experts. so, you know, we ask questions
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of you folks, and then later on in nhtsa, and then we cross our fingers. you know, i'm just i'm just puzzled and disappointed that here we go again. so my most serious questions will be reserved for the nhtsa witness in the second panel, but i would ask mr. shimizu, and i may not be pronouncing your name correctly. in the short tem the the old saying is don't dig the the hole any deeper. i'm told by my friends at general motors that there's a shortage of repair kits to do the replacements, and there hiroshi shimizu are a couple of gm products used in the takata ir bags. how soon will you have enough good kits available so we can go ahead and do the recalls for
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the cars we've already recalled? >> congressman, regarding the capacity of the replacement kits, we are now staffed to 350,000, and this will increase to 450,000 in january by adding two more lines. and we continue to work on discussing with auto makers to increasing capacity. and as mr. schostek mentioned, we also are taking the option to evaluate if it's visible. so we'll take every action necessary to support, to speed up the replacement of the -- >> now, i'm just an old engineer, but there are about 7 million cars, i think, that all
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in all have been recalled. at 450,000 a month, that's a year and a half or longer. do you think that's acceptable? >> it's not speeding up. that's why we are discussing in our capacity of the productions, but it takes a month to be ready for that. o we do everything we can do at this moment. >> well, what does the driver do with the vehicle that's in a recall that is not going to be repaired for another year and a half or two years? owe just disconnect the the air bag? just hope you don't have an accident? >> no, that's impossible. understand the situation. that's why -- i'm not trying to be rude about it. >> we, of course, actually, the ata shows that it's still --
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in that case that we can supply to fit the the demand of our customers at this moment, if we focus on that priority, or if we do taking a phase, by adding apacity, we can catch up the supply to the demand. >> my time is about to expire. are there other manufacturers that manufacture an equivalent irbag product that you could institute for your air bag and repair these cars that have already been recalled? or is that just not technically an engineering wise feasible b? >> it's required some tests. >> i would suggest that you look at that. because the sooner the john yarmuth cars that have already been identified are repaired, the better off you're going to
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be, in my opinion. with that, mr. chairman, i yield back. >> thank you very much. the chair recognizes the gentleman from kentucky. >> thank you, mr. chairman. and thank the witnesses for their testimonies today. i wish i could say i felt better about this situation now than i did when i walked into the room, but i think i feel a little bit more uncertain than i wish i did. i have a little bit of a personal his we with this issue. i was a young senate staffer on the congress committee in the early '07s rick schostek when ralph nader came to the congress and urged the mandatory air bag legislation and so i know we've been putting air bags in cars for a long time. i would like to hear from all the manufacturers how long you've been putting air bags in your vehicles. >> congressman, since the '90s, i'm pretty sure. the early '90s. >> i'm not so sure. i think it was the late
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'80s. could have been early '90s. >> same thing. and i know there have been instances involving spontaneous deployment of air bags and so forth but correct me if i'm wrong. the issue that we're dealing with today, these inflater ruptures did not happen before ten years. are you aware of any incidents of inflater ruptures that occurred before the turn of the century? >> no. >> all right. and i assume that there was no relevance of humidity in any of the prior instances of now function of air bags prior to the turn of the century, essentially this ten-year period. so i'm getting at this issue of the root cause. and what possibly changed, other than change of propellant that you use from before this
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time hiroshi shimizu peert when you changed propellants, is there anything else that changed in the technology that ou could reasonably identify as a potential cause of this inflater rupture prior to this eriod? >> we understand the character f the models we use. and weit's controlled during he operation, and we do it and unfortunately we've had some issues in the past. the moisture control. but it's -- we believe that the it is managed the environmental come prex. >> but what i'm getting at is, i think we pretty much excluded any other potential root cause, other than the propellant being used.
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nothing else changed in technology. none of these happened before the change in propellant. so regardless of whether it's humidity related, temperature related, or -- the propellant seems to be the only variable that could be responsible for these malfunctions. is that correct, or not? nothing else changed and we never saw it before you changed propellants. wouldn't you say it's reasonable to assume that the pro pel lant is the root cause? congressman, this has happened eerd able normal typical reaction, or weakness of the ody. so either -- also now, but also the fact that we can consider s the body side.
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but at this moment, according to our investigation, we don't see any abnormality in the body side. >> ok. going a little bit further and this is expanding on his question, you filed a 573 safety recall report just a month or so ago involving a defect in the irbags produced in mexico, is that correct? > yes. the air bag was produced in mexico. >> right. so you're actually still producing air bags that have defects in them. and i don't know what the nature of that defect was, but again it goes to the question of, and i know we don't have too much time. it goes to the question of whether we can be confident that even the replacements that are being provided are safe, and i guess any of the manufacturing representatives who are here might want to respond. how can you be confident that
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the the replacementment parts you're putting in or the air bags you're putting in today are safe if you're still buying them from takata. >> that specific issue is happened in mexico many years ago. and that's already crossed and moved to mexico. and as i said, it's all done from previous issues. it was greased, we had problems and taken care of. so the correction production is capable to produce the parts and i'm very confident that it's there. >> i would like to submit, mr. chairman, that question. and have the manufacturers respond to the committee as to how we can leonard lance be confident that the equipment that they're using today is safe. thank you very much.
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>> absolutely. >> i yield back. >> the chair recognizes the the vice chair of the sub committee, yes man from new jersey, abbas saadat mr. lance. >> thank you, mr. chairman. are toyotas on the road in the united states today safe regarding the air bag issue? >> sir, every time there's a safety recall -- >> yes. >> and the vehicle has yet to be repaired -- >> yes. >> there's always the risk. in the case of people residing in the area of high himdty, we are urging our customers to please follow the strexs of the letters that we have sent to them, and as long as they do that, they can operate the vehicle safely. >> and if that is done, there are enough air bags available so that that can be ccomplished immediately?
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>> takata has indicated they have significantly increased the production, starting from this month. and i think we have a good amount of inflaters. >> thank you. mr. westbrook, the same question to you regarding bmws. >> would you repeat, please? >> yes, are bmws safe for the driving public in the united states of america today? >> rick schostek we believe they are. we have no knowledge of any inflater rupture to this date on any bmw, on any air bag, on any side of the car. >> same question to you, mr. schostek, regarding hondas. >> yes, mr. chairman. there are recalls in effect for honda vehicles from the past. we are urging those customers to get those vehicles fixed. if there's not a recall, then we do believe those customers are safe. i do want to address the situation -- >> and there are enough air bags so for those that are being recalled the problem can be fixed immediate will? >> that's where i was going, yes. we have seen the supply of replacement parts is adequate
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to match the demand. we appreciate the attention on this issue. it's actually causing more customers to come forward and to get their vehicles repaired. these are usually older vehicles. and getting a high complete rate on recalls is difficult. >> and you're confident that the recalls you have suggested are inclusive of all of the problems? >> yes, sir. >> and there's not likely to be furl recalls upon us? >> there is a safety information campaign where takata has not yet identified the defect or cause of that. we are going to expand that to a national campaign, as we talked about this morning. and there may be, sir, a time when replacement parts become a little short. and that's why we're working with not only takata, but two other manufactures, auto league and disel. and we believe based on recent discussions with those
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companies there are good pros protects to reduce the shortage. there's not a shortage right now, sir. we expect there may be a shortage in the foreseeable future. but we're trying to reduce -- >> thank you. mr. shimizu. i have in front of me the letter takata sent in response to the request of the government. letter is dated yesterday. t is from mike, the director of product safety. does he work for you? >> yes. >> and he's director of product safety in this country or throughout the entire system? >> it's mainly focused on this country. >> this country. thank you. i find the response, argumentative and not particularly helpful. for example, takata complains that you have only had two working days to respond giving the intervening thanksgiving holiday. how long has takata known about the problem.
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certainly more than two working days. days. >> could you repeat the question again? >> i find the the response, and we'll be asking about this later because this is our next witness. i find the the letter very unhelpful and extremely contentious. it does not support a nationwide determination of a sifty wide defect in all vehicles equipped with the the driver side inflateers. that's not the view of the agency and government that protectses the american people. you are in opposition, is that accurate? >> can i ask the question? > certainly.
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> congressman, sorry it take >> congressman, sorry it take so long. >> certainly, you have every right to confirm. yes, that's correct. that is. >> thank you, and in conclusion, and we'll be asking this of nhtsa later in the hearing. on november 26th, nhtsa demandeded a national recall of driver's side with a deadline of december 2nd. you have responded in the negative. if the company fails to act, nhtsa will continue to statutorily require process needed to force takata to act. and certainly my line gregg harper of questioning this afternoon will be related to that.
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i think that we have to work more closely together to make sure that the american people are safe. thank you, mr. chairman. >> thank you, and the chair recognizes the gentleman from mississippi for mooif fnts. >> thank you, mr. chairman. thank you for being here today. mr. shimizu, you know, this is a matter of safety and concern for for everyone as a driver and families, children, those that might be impacted can i ask you, the hiroshi shimizu the pro pel lant that you use that's the amoan yum nitrate propellant you use now, when as the decision made to -- and when did you stop using tetrizol and move to the ammonium nitrate propellant? >> i'm not sure, congressman xactly which year, but i
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elieve it was 2003 or -- let e confirm. >> it's been at least more than ten years ago. correct? >> yes. >> and maybe late 1990s. early 2000? what is the cost difference between the propellant in tetrizol versus what you use now? how much does that affect the price of an air bag? >> i believe to to my knock, there's not much difference. but i don't know the actual cost. >> but isn't tetrizol much more expensive? why was the decision made to switch from one to the the other if but for cost? >> the reason to change is not he cost.
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it's because of the -- there are many other reasons why we do that. >> what is the propellant for the replacement air bags that you're manufacturing as we speak. >> excuse me? >> what propellant is used on the replacement air bags? the ones that you're manufacturing now? >> the same that we use efore. >> do you foresee changing the propellant of those approximately 50,000 per month. we have to get the materials to replace the parts for the vehicle. it's a characteristic and a difference. so we have to go through the first tests. that's the main reason we continue to use the the same, and of course, that comes for the the current production line. and one more thing, if i can, is we have -- also, and is a
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type of motors, and we continue to work on improving the program. >> do you believe that the cause of the ruptures or the early deployment of these air bags or the ineffectiveness of it, is that due to the propellant, or do you believe that it's some other cause? >> my understanding is this cause of the problem is because of the manufacturing process, nd the humidity control. >> i certainly want to, i would like to abbas saadat ask some questions, if i may, from toyota on the approach that you have. how many toyota vehiclesed by the recall? >> approximately, 878,000. >> and it's my understanding that toyota was the first to initiate a nationwide recall, is that correct?
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>> our nationwide recall has been in effect since april of 2013. >> just as a matter of convenience, are you providing loaner vehicles to the customers that come? >> yes. if that's what they desire, yes. >> mr. westbrook, is that something that bmw is doing, yes? >> and honda. >> yes. right now the the parts are in adequate supply. we provide that to them at no charge. >> if i may ask, you mentioned earlier, and you said there are not never driver side air bag issues for toyota. why is that? >> the problematic inflaters that takata has identified, they're not installed in the u.s. >> different supplier for the driver side air bag? >> yes. >> what prompted you, mr.
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saadat to start supplying inflaters to takata for testing? >> there was a preliminary evaluation that was opened by nhtsa in june of this year, and requested all automakers to send parts that they have collected. >> ok. >> and send them to takata for testing. >> what about independent testing? what are we doing there? >> in terms of independent testing, we have retained the service on an independent engineering firm to be able to help us and give us more assurances on the root cause of this issue. >> mr. westbrook, any independent testing that bmw is engaging in yet? >> we are under contract to begin engaging in that. we are beginning to collect the air bags under this regional campaign and we'll start that shortly and make those results available. >> thank you billy long very much. my time has expired. i yield back.
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>> chairman recognizes the gentleman from missouri, mr. long, for five minutes. >> hiroshi shimizu thank you, mr. chairman. mr. shimizu, how many people would need to die before you would be willing to do a nationwide ecall? >> five people died from the incident. >> that's what have died now. my question is how many more would need to die before you do what nhtsa recommends, which is a nationwide recall? >> i don't think -- >> do you have a test? >> again, it's -- we are still doing additional recalls for e researching purpose and we haven't identified the root of the cause of the problem yet. but it's a chance to have --
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t's minimal according to the data that we have. >> it's my understanding when the air bag explodes, it's metal projectiles, shrapnel so to speak, that has cut veins and led to some of these deaths, is that correct? >> once it happens, yes. >> so it's sort of driving down the highway with possibly a shotgun aimed at you behind the steering wheel or behind the glove box, i guess, and not knowing which air bag isguess, not knowing which air bag is going to explode and act as a shotgun would such as hrapnel. >> congressman, it's -- air bag deployed and saved the people's lives and also saved people from serious injury from the ccident.
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yes, we have some issues. we have addressed that. as we did in the past, so we conscious of it. it is products we're make right now today. it's safe and also -- we have some concerns which is high temperature, high muhammad. that's high humidity which is why we investigate. >> you're confident the ones you're making now are safe but we all know the ones on the road now, there's a possibility they are not safe, correct? that would be covered with a nationwide recall. >> let me confirm. >> sure. >> mr.
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>> mr. congressman, for the -- outside regional recall, all data we have does not support such risk at this moment. so we're conscious it's safe. >> i don't know that i understood the answer. my question is, the once that are manufactured today you are confident are safe, but the ones out there on the road are recalled because you're not able to do a nationwide recall, those are not safe, perhaps, correct? >> we're confident it's safe. >> you think they are safe? >> pardon? >> you think they are safe? >> yes. >> and you're confident from the testimony i've heard today, i'm given to understand that you think it is a humidity and a heat -- function of heat and humidity.
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is that a one-time situation or is it a compound situation? let me give you an example. if i live in cheyenne, wyoming, low humidity, and i want to go to a wedding in jacksonville, florida, in my honda that has a takata air bag, should i make that trip? i'm only going to be down there a few days with the heat and humidity, would that be a safe trip to take or not? >> congressman, it's a compound ituation, which is -- products have to be extensive period of time and under high temperature, high humidity. >> so, if i was going to move from cheyenne, wyoming, and take a job in jacksonville, florida, you recommend i'd get my air bag replaced, correct? if i was going to live this year-round and there was going to be heat and humidity year-round, you'd recommend i
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get the air bag replaced? >> there are many -- >> i wanted to keep my family safe. >> i confident it's safe but we still didn't identify the cause yet, so that's why we continue to test, so it's hard to answer the question. >> let me ask the gentleman from honda. same question to you. i live rick schostek in cheyenne, wyoming, i want to go to jacksonville, florida, take the family down there for a wedding. are you confident i'm safe in a honda to do that or is it a cop pound effect on the heat and humidity? should people not travel in high heat and humidity areas with takata air bags for short trips? >> we've had a lot of recalls -- >> that's not my question. i think that's what takata should do is a national recall. i appreciate that honda's done that. my question is, if someone was
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going to make a trip and had not done the recall progress. >> the phenomenon of rate of ruptures are in vehicles that re older vehicles, 8, 10, 12 -- >> older cars? >> yeah. and i think the discussion about heat and humidity, the theory about that is it's over a prolonged period of time that heat and humidity cycle potentially affecting the propellant. >> what's the newest car someone was deceased in, a honda? what's latest on year model. >> sir, i believe it was a 2004, but i'd have to check. >> what year did that tragedy occur? >> the most recent one occurred this yeeshgs sir, but in a 2004 model. you know, there's been four
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fatalities in honda vehicles. >> i thought five. >> four in the u.s., one in alaysia. all were subject to that national recall -- >> no, i appreciate honda doing adam kinzinger that. i just wichita kata would do that. >> gentlemen, your time -- >> i yield back. >> gentlemen from illinois is up next. >> we're going to miss you. great friend. congratulations on the work you've done on this committee. thank you for being out here. just a couple of quick questions. i may not take all my five minutes. we'll make up for billy long there. sorry, billy. to the three of you, do you believe there's current data available for the national recall of all takata driver's side air bags? >> no.
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> i'm sorry -- >> we'll just ask down the line for you guys. go ahead. >> in reference to driver's side, as we stated, i don't have any of those problematic inflaters in our driver's side. >> ok. so, you haven't seen that. >> as we informed the committee today, we are taking the action to expand our safety improvement campaign for driver's side recalls from region ale to national. we want to get more information to help others in the industry as well as takata and ourselves to understand what the -- what the effect is, if there's a defect, and to determine the cause. i think it's important to understand from the customer's viewpoint, congressman, that we -- you know, we use these words safety improvement campaign sxrl, and i know it can be confusing to customers. and we're certainly sympathetic and empathetic to that. the notice that arrives in the customer's mailbox, one or rick schostek the other, says your vehicle is subject to recall, so please bring it in. we've focused ourselves, our
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attention on, ok, what's happening in the field? what's happening with our customers? how do they understand what's going on here? and we're really trying to and we're really trying to redouble our efforts to make sure they understand we want them to bring that vehicle in so that we can replace the inflater. and then we need to do testing. takata needs to do testing. we as oems need to do testing and a third-heater engineering firm needs to do testing. we're all engineering companies here. we want to find the answer to this. in the meantime i think our focus has to be, what can we do for our customers? >> i got you. i appreciate it. there's been a discussion about regional recalls from high humidity states to other states outside those regions. i believe an area that needs focus by automakers is the commerce of recycled original
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equipment manufacturer parts. each day over a half million oem parts, same parts designed by your companies to meet your fit, finish and durability standards are sold by professional automotive recyclers. they play an important part and are readily sold from one state or region of the country to another. recently gm reached out to professional automotive recyclers offering to buy back or purchase recalled gm ignition switches. to accomplish this, gm provided specific oem part numbers for ignition switches so they could identify the specific recalled parts in their company's inventories. to those representing the car companies, do you agree sharing oem part numbers and other identifiable information with the professional automotive recycling industry would increase safety? yeah, so we'll start with that. >> congressman, i myself am not familiar with the gm action.
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i would bring up another point. counterfeit air bags are a problem in this country as well. we've been working hard state by state to try to stop the craig use of counterfeit air bags. that's a big danger to consumers. it's a big danger to our consumers. but on the recycler, sir, i would like to get back to you. >> we have a process called automated parts return and any part, like air bag s subject to that process. if a company like a recycler wants our mirror caps, they can have them. >> sir, i'm an engineer and i can't really comment on legislative issues but i'll be happy to provide response to you later. >> and would sharing that information, would that help you -- would that assist your companies in tracking recalled parts? >> sharing what information, please?
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>> the oem parts numbers with recyclers. >> i can't say that. >> do honda, toyota and bmw currently have a similar buy back program in place with you might have addressed that. >> i'm not aware of that. i'd be happy to get back to you. >> mr. chairman, i yield back ten seconds. >> thank you. now the chair recognizes the gentleman from florida for five minutes. >> thank you, mr. chairman. i appreciate all your work on this committee and congress as a whole. we are going to miss you. this is a fund mental issue of safety and america must be able to trust the cars they drive are safe. i'm sure you'll agree with that. instead, millions of americans have been driving cars with potentially deadly air bags. i represent the area i represent has increased risk because of this defect has been generally been in parts of the country
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with high humidity and it's been stated. florida has many residents that are transient. i know you know that, too. mr. sadat, mr. schoski, what steps are you taking to correctly identify customers whose customers have been in high humidity areas for prolonged periods? abbas saadat how are you contacting them? we'll start with mr. sadat. >> first of all, in terms of region, what we have is we basically look at the latest registration, number one. we're also snowbirds, you know, if a vehicle is transferred and brought to the region and if there's -- in general, if there's a regional recall, we contact our customers outside of a region who had their vehicles in the region or vice versa, so
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that's -- >> what about if somebody buys a used car, how do you address rick schostek that? >> we look at the latest registration. based on that, we'll get the information, we'll contact them. >> ok. mr. schostska. >> thank you for asking that question. florida has been the site of 17 of the incidents that involve honda vehicles, by far the most of any state and by far our biggest concern. in fact, there was an article, i think, in late september in one of the newspapers that inaccurately reported that honda was asking dealers not to contact customers. they were misconstruing a message we sent to our dealers. what happened at the very same time, sir, in the state of florida we began 93,000 calls, sent out 125,000 e-mails and sent out 76,000 postcards.
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we believe the risk is highest in your state and we are putting extra effort into locating customers craig westbrook in your state. and having some success with that, sir. >> ok. next i'd like to hear from mr. westbrook. >> we have maybe half of it covered. we have a way to track the car that was bought in florida because it will be subject to the recall and that's linked to the v.i.n. by our database. i don't have a way to track a car that were maybe bought in michigan and spent the other half of the year in florida, but i would like to get back on that. >> well, please, work on that and i'd like to hear from you. >> i will. >> again, for the entire panel, would you let a family member drive a car with a takata air bag? i'd like for you to answer that. would you let a family member drive a car with a takata air bag? >> if the car was subject to recall, i would encourage that family member to get it in as soon as possible and get it fixed.
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if the car is not subject to a recall, yes, i would drive a car with a takata air bag. >> abbas saadat i'd like to hear from the entire panel. >> yes, i do. i would drive the car with our air bag. >> mr. westbrook. >> i would drive a bmw with the passenger recall in place. >> if a family member lives in the higher risk area, i urge them to take the vehicle and -- actually, first of all, follow the instructions, the letters we sent to them, and they can operate it safely. take the vehicle, we'll try to take care of them. >> would you let them drive it after they went through that? would you let them drive the -- in other words, would you allow them to drive it or would you prefer they drive it? >> after the remedy is done, based on the information that takata has indicated, you know, that they have addressed the root cause, yes. >> and you would trust takata?
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>> as i said before, we have retained the service of an independent engineering firm to give us more assurances, sir. >> all right. next question, i know i don't have much time. mr. hiroshi shimizu shimizo, takata has known there were potential issues with its air bags-a as far back as 2004. a decade has passed by. a full decade. why hasn't your company been able to fix this life-threatening defect since then? >> congressman, every time we recognize an incident or issue, we immediately jump onto the problems and try to find root cause of the issues. as soon as we identify the root cause, we took care of that. we address the issues, we take care of the problems. >> yeah, but, sir, i mean, it's been a full decade. ten years. >> it's a series of -- >> i don't think there's any excuse for not solving the problem. >> every time we found problem,
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we immediately take action. however, it's true that we have series of recalls and the different timing and we have some different cause of the problems, so it's not same problems all david b. mckinley times. >> gentleman from west virginia is recognized for five minutes. >> thank you, mr. chairman. let me try to focus on the recall notices because we're not going to have success with this unless people bring their cars in and get this thing taken care of. we also know that traditionally 30% to 40% of people ignore the recall notice. and if you think back a little bit about when mosses came down from the mountain, he came down with ten command ants. he didn't come down with ten good ideas. so, i'm concerned about how much of an emphasis is in that notice
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that you better get your car back in? because i've got two notices on my car. i have a chevy cruise. i haven't done anything with it yet because i don't know if it's a life-threatening situation and i've ignored it. i know 30% to 40% of people ignore it. how effective was the notice that you are giving that this car could provide as, mr. long said, a shotgun blasting at you? what's the content of your notice? is it just a good idea to bring it in or if you don't bring it in, we're going to come after it? >> let me answer first. we have resent the implemented authorization program. one in particular is contacting each customer by phone, e-mails and follow-up mails to urge them
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to bring their vehicles in. if they don't feel safe, we ask them -- we'll tow the vehicles to to the dealership. that's the second part. we improve our website -- >> could you share with us a notice that you put out? you're doing the telephone call with it? i don't know what -- we've got 10, 12 manufacturers using these. i'm just curious, cue send rick schostek our office just a typical notice that when you put out a recall -- >> congressman -- >> i'm just curious to see what value is it? do you really -- do you scare them? is this a commandment or just a good idea. >> you're hitting on a good idea. we're talking about older vehicles. we'll send you both the notice we send with regard to a recall and the notice we send with regard to a safety improvement campaign.
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i've looked at both of them. the letter is pretty strong. the request is pretty strong. >> if you would just send that to me, i'd appreciate it. let me go to another step with this recall notice. carfax apparently doesn't tell you where your car is. so, if i'm going to buy a used car, i don't know -- maybe you can inform me or educate me, but i don't know -- west virginia. am i going to get a notice that there's a recall? >> if the car is recalled, sir, we are checking -- >> it's a yes or no. >> vehicle identification numbers -- >> it's not a yes or no. >> yes, you should.
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>> if i -- >> if a car has been registered number, you know that car -- in -- >> it will go by the v.i.n. because -- let's just say i bought a car in west virginia and it's registered in west virginia but i take it to florida and use it in florida for 12 years and bring it back to west virginia or however. >> right. >> what's the -- who knows where that car really is? >> that's a very good question. and, obviously, we can't sit here and provide you with 100% assurance that we were able to track a car. we do have -- we do check craig westbrook registration information in the various states, so we do know it that way, but it's an area we need to work harder at, sir. >> that's honda. what about bmw and toyota. what are you all doing? i'm curious from a pure mechanical standpoint, how are we checking this? >> this is similar answer that i gave to congressman billy from florida. i think we have it in the car going the one way. in other words, if the car is registered in florida and we have a campaign in florida, it's going to be a cross-link to that vehicle identification number. the other way around is more difficult to figure out and as committed earlier, we'll try to get to the bottom of that. >> ok.
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let me ask the final question with this is, if i'm -- if i have a concern about my car and i've not received a recall notice and i take it to a dealer can and i say, i'm just uncomfortable. i see across the nation, there have been deaths reported. i would like to have my air bag replaced replaced. what does the dealer do? he says, sure. i'll take care of it next week or does he say, you don't fit the profile. if he says no, where's the limit then? >> congressman, we've instructed our dealers that we want our customers to be taken care of and want them to feel comfortable. if they are concerned about their car, we have loner cars available, rental cars available if a part isn't available. and just this week, congressman, i requested our service division
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to contact each and every dealer we have in the united states. we have 1300 -- more than 1300 honda and acura dealers to contact them individually and ensure that the treatment the customers are receiving and the respect that the customer is receiving with regard to these inflater issues is up to our expectations. we expect our dealers to accommodate our customers -- >> even if they're not -- even if they've -- their individual needs. >> at no cost to the owner. >> at no cost to the owner. >> the chair recognizes the gentleman from ohio for five minutes. >> thank you, mr. chairman. i would like to also add my -- my thoughts to you as you make this transition. it's been great serving with you on this committee. i wish you the absolute best. >> mr. shimizu, i want to get into the manufacturing.
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i came prior to coming to congress, i worked for an automotive supplier. we made electronic components. some of the plants were located near where some of your plants are located. we understand there are five inflater types that have been subjected to these recalls. in terms of producing hiroshi replacement kits for those that have to be replaced, can takata simultaneously produce new inflaters for each type as well as replacement kits for each type simultaneously? >> congressman, most of the case, each inflater has their own exclusive line, so the answer is, yes, we can do it. >> you can do replacements and new, ok. along these same lines, are passenger and driver air bag
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inflaters produced on the same or different lines? >> passenger inflater and driver inflater we produce different but same plant. >> same plant but different line? >> yes. >> does an increase in the production of replacement part, driver's side replacement parts, affect your ability to produce passenger air bag inflaters? >> cue repeat your question again? >> does an increase in the production of driver's side air bags, does that affect your ability to produce passenger air bags? since they're separate lines, i think the answer to that is no, correct? >> correct. >> for our folks at honda, --
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what analysis -- i saw the press release about the analysis you're going to be doing. if i've got it right here, honda today called for coordinated independent -- goal of ensuring all that are accurately identified and fixed as quickly as possible. what analysis did rick schostek honda undergo, if any, and was it independent? have you done any independent analysis to date to determine if a recall of the air bags are necessary -- or the inflaters, rather? >> thank you, congressman. i think we need to separate the recall decision versus testing.
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so, the recall decision we make is based on information we receive, for example, from takata with regard to manufacturing defects, they told us what those manufacturing defects were. we did not simply blindly accept their analysis but our engineers looked at it and thought, is it reasonable? based on that, we have effected recalls over time. with regard to the current problem, which is trying to understand the cause of the -- is there a defect and what could be the contributing cause, for example, heat, humidity, we began independent testing recently but we were appreciative others in the auto industry, especially with toyota's leadership, we were able to announce yesterday many of us are coming together and sharing testing. we still have high expectations of takata to continue their
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testing but i can speak for hon dashgs i can't speak for the other oems, but i can speak for honda. we feel a need to validate that and see what else we can come up with using an independent third-party engineering flirm. >> just real quick. we know at least some of the data has indicated that humidity, temperature, climate has had an effect on these inflaters. are you folks doing testing on virtually every climate scenario in america, the different regions of the country? because, you know -- and seasonal? because it changes from season to season and region to region of our country. so, are you looking at things other than humidity, like dryness, you know, whatever? >> a very good question. and the answer -- i can't go as far as to say every climatetic condition in the country because that would be going too far, i think. but we are testing from the humidity areas and other areas of the country. the purpose of a good testing is to have different samples to look at.
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that's what we're doing. >> mr. chairman, i'm prepared to yield back but let me just make this statement. again, coming from an automotive supplier myself, and i appreciate your candor, but i think it's a little bit short-sighted to say we can't test for all the different climate conditions in the country. if we already know these inflaters are affected by humidity, for god's sakes, we don't know what other climate conditions affect the inflaters as well. i think we need to get to the bottom of that as well. with that, mr. chairman, i yield back. >> does the gentleman from texas, mr. burgess, have any questions? >> i am anxious to hear from our next witness. >> thank you. there has been a request from the full committee chair, therefore, by my set of rules, he is -- >> just to pose another question. you know, there's been a number of different articles that have
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been written over the last number of weeks regarding secret tests and i will give you this for the record. this is a cnbc story. and it reads early, the japanese manufacturer takata secretly conducted tests on 50 air bags that it retrieved from scrap yards according to two former employees, one of whom was senior member of its testing lab. results were so startling that engineers began starting possible fixes in preparation for a recall but instead of alerting federal safety regulators to possible danger, takata executive discounted the risk and allowed them to delete the testing data from their computers and dispose of the inflater air bag in the trash. "usa today," other publications have reported similar stories.
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chris martin from honda said in a statement, this is a serious allegation about actions taken by takata. it is our intention to determine whether anyone at honda has any evidence that these claims are credible, so i'm anxious just to get a quick response. but more disturbing, of course, is the takata spokesperson declined to comment on the disclosure of the testing. so, if i could just hear from takata and honda briefly, if you'd like to respond in writing, you can, but i'm -- i'm truly troubled by these stories, which is what helped rick lead us to this hearing today. and we'll be asking similar questions of nhtsa, who follows
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you now. i ask for the indulgence of the committee to get a response and -- >> congressman, you mentioned mr. march tirngs honda representative quoted in there. we are continuing to look and to see if we have any reason to add any credibility to that. up to this point, sir, as i sit here, i cannot add any credibility to that. we will continue to look and -- but i don't know of any honda awareness of that testing in 2004. >> and this story indicates the testing was done in auburn hills, that's in michigan. of course, this was about the time that we were doing the tread act, which hiroshi shimizu was a pretty big story in michigan. >> congressman, my response to your question is, first, we don't conduct any secret tests during 2004, however according to our record, we conducted a series of tests in 2004 because of cushion issues.
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we have some cushion tears issues that happened and actually nhtsa, one is founded during their test. and then nhtsa informed to automakers and then request us to do a series of tests with limited time. we asked series of test because of cushion tears, not inflarts. we don't use any inflater from junkyard either. so i think that is -- as a fact is, we did conduct a series of tests because of cushion issues. actually, nhtsa knows about it because we got the notice from nhtsa. after we finished the test we found the root cause, which is the operation between press cover and cushions that create -- weaken the cushion and cause cushion tears, which was reported back to automakers and nhtsa and automaker end up to do the actual recall later in 2004.
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>> when was it reported to nhtsa? >> i believe it's during 2004. it's from automakers because they have to do the recall. and i believe november 2004. >> if you could confirm that in writing before the end of the week, we'd certainly appreciate it. >> yes. we can get back to the subcommittee by the end of this -- by the end of this, yes. >> yield back. >> thank you, mr. now the ranking member has one additional question as well. >> mr. schostek, another news report from november in the "new york times" that reported after 2004 air bag rupture in a honda vehicle, your company reached a nonpublic settlement agreement with the injured party and also reported that you reached nonpublic settlement agreements
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after three air bag ruptures in 2007. so i'm just wondering how many settlements like that there are and if you yourself feels required- the company itself feels required to inform nhtsa or the public about these nonpublic settlements. >> thank you for the question. there certainly are settlements in lawsuits. that's not unusual in our legal system. with regard to these air bag inflaters, we have made nhtsa aware of every inflater rupture that occurred in a honda vehicle. we don't understand -- the confidentiality of legal settlements is part of our system here but that's not to us a reason to -- that's going to cover up any safety information. we are providing the safety
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information regarding inflaters to nhtsa. >> in all of these particular cases, you did also give nhtsa the information? >> we provided nhtsa information about all inflater ruptures, yes, congresswoman. >> 2004, 2007? >> so, let me just be clear because there's two ways. we have been sharing with nhtsa all information about inflaters. we have fallen short on our tread obligations. there were eight of them. eight out of the 1700 related to takata air bag -- 8 out of the 1700 related to takata air bag inflater ruptures. did we report those on our tread report? the answer is, no. nhtsa had that information based on our other communications with them. so in our view it did not hinder to continue to investigate as we have since 2007 these takata air bag inflater ruptures. >> so, these legal settlements
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have nothing to do, you're saying, with the actual reporting of the problem for which the lawsuit arose. >> congresswoman, what i'm saying is we have shared information about takata lee terry inflater ruptures with nhtsa. >> ok. thank you. i yield back. >> thank you. that does conclude the questions for our first panel as discussed throughout, there was mentions of written questions, qfrs. we want to let the panel know it is likely you will have questions, written questions submitted to you. we will do our best to get those to you in a timely manner, which always means a couple of weeks. if you could likewise answer
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them within a couple of weeks, we would greatly appreciate them and get them back to us. this panel, thank you for your contribution and helping us better understand. obviously, this committee is dedicated to making sure the people drivering vehicles are as safe as they can possibly panel be. i think you share that as well. so, appreciate your time here today. you are dismissed. i think it looks like we're set. acting administrator, mr. friedman, i appreciate you being here. i hope you enjoyed the last few hours -- a couple hours of david and now you are recognized for your five minutes. and welcome.
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>> thank you, mr. chairman. >> microphone on? >> thank you. >> thank you, mr. chairman, ranking member and members of the subcommittee. thank you for allowing me to testimony about the issues in takata air bags. over 10 million vehicles across 10 automakers have been recalled because of inflaters that can rupture when air bags deploy. more than half of these are part of older recalls associated with known manufacturing problems and four related deaths that have occurred in the united states. excuse me. i apologize. many of these vehicles have already been repaired, but many have not. that is why nhtsa alerted
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consumers in this year to bring their vehicles in for repairs. recalls are serious safety issues and vehicle recall completion rates remain far too low. i encourage all owners to go to safercar.gov/vinlookup to see if their cars need to be repaired under these or any recalls. under nhtsa's efforts to alert consumers, industry must step up. automakers must do a better job to aggressively reach out to consumers to get their vehicles repaired and they must report all information required under the tread act. dealers have to check v.i.n. numbers for open recalls every time a vehicle is brought in for service. as the administration proposes in the grow america act, rental car companies and used car dealers should never be allowed to rent or sell vehicles without fixing them first. congress can also provide help to states to implement programs directly linking vehicle registration to the repair of
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open recalls. now, i want to address the latest air bag recalls. nhtsa moved to open an investigation based on three consumer complaints about air bags from three different manufacturers. we connected the dots. takata was the common supplier and all were from florida and puerto rico. we reached out to takata and the manufacturers, discovered three additional ruptures and that air bags with these or similar inflaters are used by several more manufacturers. initial data suggested the defects in driver's and passenger air bags were related to long exposure to high heat and humidity so nhtsa acted quickly. within days of opening an investigation, obtained recalls in areas of demonstrated risk from manufacturers with the same or similar inflaters. automakers responded to our recall and declared defects on a handful of incidents and, thankfully, no reported deaths.
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our policy is clear. vehicle recalls are nationwide and have -- and we have denied and will continue to deny requests for regional recalls unless the manufacturer provides solid information indicating that the risk is regionally limited. the data we had at the time on the regional nature of the problem was compelling and we wanted the manufacturers to quickly recall the vehicles of those that demonstrated risks. but that was far from the end of our efforts. we are actively looking into other claims of injury or death to determine if they could be related. while we continue those efforts, we refuse to wait until someone else got hurt. we had takata begin testing air bags from vehicles across the country. the tests so far have provided data supportive of the regional recall approach for passenger side air bags, as you can see in this chart. but when we quickly connected a more recent driver's side injury in north carolina to one in california, as you can see in this chart, and others that did happen in florida, we acted.
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i called on takata and the vehicle manufacturers with driver's side air bags with the same or similar inflaters to expand the driver's side recall nation wide. mr. chairman, it's time again for industry to step up and put safety first. what we learned last night takata has refused to issue a nationwide notice of a defect in these driver's side air bags. until they and automakers act, effected drivers won't be protected. we are now engaged in a detail review of takatas response and demand and will follow up with all appropriate steps to ensure takata and automakers protect the driving public nationwide. takata must also increase their testing to provide us with more data to determine the full nature of the defects. i was encouraged by honda, ford's -- make these remedies available to vehicle owners, including working with other air
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bag suppliers. finally, if our continued investigation or added testing show the passenger side air bag defects are not limited to regions of high heat and humidity, we will act quickly. until then, we want to ensure that the limited supply of passenger side replacement parts are made available to those that demonstrated risks. mr. chairman, each day more than 90 americans lose their lives due to drunk driving, not wearing a seat belt and fatalities fatalities. each other, more than 200 americans are injured in traffic accidents accidents. these are tragic reminders of the importance of our efforts and how we must build on our
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many successes and continue to work hard and even harder to protect the american public. the case of dweblgttive air bags is no different. let me be clear to you. we will continue our aggressive efforts to protect americans lee terry from defective takata air bags. we have acted swiftly and based on the evidence and we will continue to do so. if we find any evidence of wrongdoing, those responsible will be held accountable. >> thank you for your testimony. now, i'll recognize myself for five minutes to start the questions. so, bluntly, does nhtsa believe that humidity is the problem? >> it is clear humidity is one of the factors and is clearly a major factor when it comes to passenger side air bags. when it comes to driver's side air bags, we have to follow the evidence. the evidence is clear that the problem is not limited to areas of very high, absolute humidity.
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>> all right. so, takata believes that a national recall of driver's side air bags is unnecessary. can you explain with some level of specificity -- specifics why nhtsa now disagrees, especially in light of the fact that nhtsa had initially called for a regional action? >> mr. chairman, first of all, i was deeply disappointed by takatas response and failure to take responsibility for the defects their products -- for the defects in their products. the fundamental explanation is, we have followed the data. initially, all of the incidents that occurred in the real world with passenger and driver's side air bags all occurred exclusively in florida and puerto rico. when we expanded the testing and pushed takata to do the tetsing, the same held true for the testing of all passenger side air bags as can you see in this
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chart over here. however, when we saw real world incidents on the driver's side, one california, we pushed honda to make sure their recall covered that region. then very recently, we became aware of a driver's side incident in north carolina. with six total incidents, two of which are outside that region, we can no longer support a regional recall. our policy is clear. recalls must be nationwide unless the manufacturers can demonstrate that they are regional. with the new data, it is clear, they can no longer demonstrate that the region that was used before was appropriate for driver's side air bags. >> specific kaelt cars that you referenced, north carolina and california, santa monica area, what is the level of absolute humidity there? and is it so different that you can say back up what you're saying, is that it needs to go to a more national level. >> if we could put up chart "d"
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over here. what chart "d" is information from noaa indicating the median annual dew point temperature. dew point temperature is a measure of total amount of water in the air or the absolute humidity. as you can see, the brown areas are where we saw initially all the incidents. then we started to see passenger incidents in the red areas. the new incidents in california and north carolina are roughly around the edge of the yellow and green areas, clearly indicating they are outside of the areas of the regional recalls and in areas of lower humidity. >> in the sense -- this is why this issue is particularly difficult to get my mind around.
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so, if the issue is the absolute humidity, how -- what caused the defect in california and north carolina autos? >> mr. chairman, you're asking the exact same questions we're asking. one of the most frustrating parts about this is that neither the automakers nor takata have been able to get to the bottom of the root cause on this. we've been pushing them to do so. we are also working and hope to within the week hire outside expertise and begin standing up our own testing capabilities so we can supplement the work they are doing. they are responsible legally for getting to the bottom of this. we have pushed them to do so, including requiring answers under oath. between the fact of the root cause on the driver's side is not clear, now that it's clear it's outside those areas of high temperature and high humidity and the fact we now have six total incidents, it is clear a regional recall is no longer
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appropriate for the driver's side air bags. >> very good. i appreciate that. so, in regard to the humidity aspect, the three automakers testify that they believe it is humid -- or humidity is the root cause, i don't have the level of confidence in that, but they've said they are going to hire a third party independent inspection of whether it is related to the humidity or something else. so my question, very quickly answer, do you believe that as well? that a third pert independent inspector is absolutely necessary? >> i believe we need to put all resources forward to address this issue. also, let me be clear, a root
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cause is not required for a recall. all that is required for a recall is an unreasonable risk to safety. that's clear on the driver's side there is an unreasonable risk to safety outside the areas of humidity and temperature. >> i agree with the latter part. the reality for the consumer is if the root cause isn't identified, how can you have confidence they've solved the problem by putting in a new air bag? >> we share your concern. we will evaluate the adequacy of their remedy to ensure that the american public is safety. >> thank you. >> thank you. >> recognize the ranking member. >> thank you, mr. chairman. on november 26th nhtsa issued a recall request letter to takata acknowledging that there's a safety-related defect regarding the driver's side air bags. i wanted to know, why did this request go to david j. takata alone, either instead of or in addition to the
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manufacturers? why hasn't nhtsa issued recall letters to the automakers demanding they expand the recalls of the driver's side air bags? >> ranking member, on november 17th, i called on takata and then followed up the next day and called on all the involved manufacturers to recall these vehicles. i made a verbal demand to them. the reason we put a written demand to takata is because once takata does the right thing and agrees to this, it doesn't matter what the automakers do. there is a clear statement of a defect in all and all the automakers must recall those vehicles. what we were looking to do is to get these vehicles recalled as quickly as possible. >> no i understand that, but takata has said no to you. >> absolutely. >> it would seem to me, since that was their option, that it would make sense to go to the automakers as well. >> in our next -- so, we're
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evaluating takata's response. in our next steps, we will work to push takata and automakers to recall these vehicles nationwide. i noted the actions by honda today, which is a clear and promising action, but clearly also not enough. much more needs to be done. we will push and use all the extent of our authority to push takata and the manufacturers to address -- >> well, what is your authority now that takata has said -- >> well, our authority under the safety act is our next step would be to issue an initial decision of a defect, then we would hold a public hearing, giving takata the opportunity to provide any evidence they have. so far, they have not provided any compelling evidence. we would give the same opportunity to the automakers. after that hearing we would weigh all the evidence and make a final determination. >> and how long would that take? >> i cannot tell you yet because we just got the -- >> frame of reference, order of magnitude, how long?
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>> order of magnitude before a hearing could be certainly multiple weeks and likely multiple months. >> let me also ask you a question about your climate map. the darkest part -- well, there's florida but then there's also texas and yet on the original regional recall, you didn't include any part of texas. why is that? so, the original -- all of the original incidents occurred in florida or puerto rico. so florida and puerto rico were included in those regions. there's -- you know, this chart doesn't show all the gradation in humidity levels. that said, we have pushed all of the automakers involved to cover the same region, at least the same region, not just in florida and puerto rico, but all around the gulf coast to ensure not just that the darkest color is included, but that there is a significant buffer zone outside of the darkest area and the red --
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>> no i understand. it's just curious to me if you think that at least humidity is a key factor that why -- the first choices wouldn't be those areas of highest humidity in your initial recall. >> well, it was because all of the data pointed to incidents in initially the more southern parts of florida and puerto rico. so, we went with the initial data, but as we got more data, we acted quickly to make sure the recalls were expanded. that was one of the benefits of the testing we pushed takata to do, is that we started seeing failures outside of that area and that made clear to us the evidence was pointing to the need for a broader recall. every time the evidence has pointed to the need for a drooder recall, we have pushed on industry to act on that.
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>> i want to go to another topic. you know that our ranking member of the full committee, waxman and i, had introduced new auto safety legislation this year. which among other things would improve the early warning reporting smg by requiring manufacturers to provide more information, making more information public. could you briefly -- let's see. maybe i'll just put this in if you could provide us that information, that would be great. >> we will do so. >> thank you. >> thank you. the chair recognizes full committee chair mr. upton for five minutes. >> thank you, mr. chairman. welcome back, mr. friedman. so, you've seen these reports. >> yes. >> the one that i cited earlier and "usa today." i think you might have written a response to that in terms of the editorial f i recall, a number of weeks ago. so, as you try to connect the dots, since these stories have
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emerged, what have you done as relates to going back to takata and seeing whether or not, did they really do these? were they really off hours and weekends? what did they do with the evidence? how does that comply? i don't know if you've thought there's enough evidence, i'm not a lawyer, enough evidence to go back to the -- to david j. see if, a, they were true, if there's actually someone is liable for criminal sanctions? i mean, what is -- what is your response behind the scenes to what has been reported publicly? >> mr. chairman, we took two steps. first of all, we looked into all of our information. second of all, we issued special order to takata compelling them, under oath, to provide us with all information on any testing that they have done related to -- >> have they done that? have they reported back yet? >> they have -- they provided their submission as of december 1st. >> monday. >> and my team is goth

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