Auto Industry Probe Seeks to Solve Takata Airbag Explosion Mystery

Ten of the world’s largest automakers have come together in an industry-wide investigation to determine the source of the lethal Takata airbag ruptures, which has proved elusive to both the auto-parts manufacturer and its customers over the past several years. In December 2014, Honda, Toyota, Ford, General Motors, and other automakers—who were most impacted by the 25 million-vehicle recall—initiated a coordinated effort to engage in extensive testing and other performance evaluations in order to improve product safety for drivers and passengers of their vehicles. The first step in the process, selecting an unbiased independent engineering firm to perform the testing, has proved challenging thus far. The forensic engineering firm Exponent, Inc., which was hired by Toyota to investigate its unintended acceleration safety crisis in 2010, was considered the frontrunner, but it later pulled itself from candidacy. The Takata airbag explosion defect has been an ongoing safety problem for more than six years, which has been blamed on a multitude of issues, including humid climates and chemical propellants, but a definitive cause has remained difficult to pin down.

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