PRIOR KNOWLEDGE OF FAULTY AIRBAGS: Takata employees admitted they were aware of the company's evasive practices 15 years ago. Image: AFP
New York - Employees at crisis-hit Takata, which was fined in the United States for providing inaccurate information on airbag safety devices, warned of evasive practices as early as 2000, the Wall Street Journal reported.
The automotive parts maker is at the heart of a vast international scandal over a defect that causes airbags to deploy with explosive force and send metal shrapnel hurtling toward drivers and passengers.
The defect is responsible for the death of eight people - seven in the United States - and has injured hundreds.
Now it appears employees in the United States had warned of company transgressions as early as 2000.
A WSJ report Tuesday (November 24) said that Takata employees had complained that the company hid testing failures and falsified data in reports to its largest customer, Honda, concerning some airbag inflators.
Read: Takata air bags: Mitsubishi issues recall for SA
Citing documents, the Journal reported that Takata employees voiced concerns throughout the 2000s, particularly one US engineer who accused the company of "prettying up" data in a practice that "has gone beyond all reasonable bounds and now most likely constitutes fraud."
Takata acknowledged the concealment but told the Journal that the instances were not related to the airbag explosions.
US safety authorities earlier this month announced up to $200 million in penalties for providing inadequate and inaccurate information, accusing the company of dodging the issue for years.
Honda also announced that it had decided to cease use of Takata's airbag inflators, with Toyota and Nissan following suit and Ford joining in just Tuesday.
Other SA manufacturers affected
Mitsubishi is not the only automaker in South Africa affected by Takata's defective air bags.
In May 2015, Wheels24 reported that Toyota South Africa said it would replace air-bag inflators in its Corolla, RunX and Yaris models (built from 2002 to 2007) and in its Rav4, Hilux and Fortuners (from July 2003 to December 2005).
Nissan SA confirmed that certain previous generation Almeras could be affected. The automaker said: "Previous generation Nissan Almeras, manufactured in Rosslyn, from 2004 to 2007 are potentially affected."
In June 2015, as a precautionary measure, Honda South Africa said it will recall "a small number of 2001-03 model years CR-V, Accord, Civic and Jazz units".
More about Takata recalls
In one of the most complex consumer recalls in history, about 19.2 million vehicles containing 23.4 million air-bag inflators have been recalled across the world, affecting 11 different automakers.
The inflators, which have been linked to at least eight deaths, can explode with too much force and spray metal shrapnel into vehicle compartments.