DoT Forces Takata’s Recall Into the Fast Lane

Erik Bernstein crisis communication, crisis management, Crisis Prevention, Crisis Response, Erik Bernstein, Jonathan Bernstein, public relations, recall crisis management, reputation management Leave a Comment

Dragging your feet is an easy way to make a bad situation worse

Air bag manufacturer Takata has been dragging its feet when it comes to a widespread recall despite agreeing that a defect does exist which causes potentially deadly ruptures in its product. Used in cars from a variety of brands, the air bags have caused at least six deaths thus far, and now the U.S. Department of Transportation has had enough.

Yesterday, the Department issued a release announcing that Takata has been all-but forced to expand its recall. Here’s the first part of the document posted to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s site:

U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx today announced that at the Department’s insistence, air bag manufacturer Takata has acknowledged that a defect exists in its air bag inflators. Takata has agreed to a national recall of certain types of driver and passenger side air bag inflators. These inflators were made with a propellant that can degrade over time and has led to ruptures that have been blamed for six deaths worldwide. The action expands the number of vehicles to be recalled for defective Takata inflators to nearly 34 million.

Secretary Foxx also announced that the Department’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) issued a Consent Order to Takata. The Consent Order requires the company to cooperate in all future regulatory actions that NHTSA undertakes in its ongoing investigation and oversight of Takata. In addition, NHTSA announced its intent to begin a formal legal process to organize and prioritize the replacement of defective Takata inflators under the agency’s legal authority.

The DoT was not messing around with this one, making very clear Takata was resistant to the change through its language and of course the marked mention of the Consent Order. Having officials step in and insist on a proper response looks infinitely worse than doing it yourself, and this development has made the company’s situation significantly more damaging than it could have otherwise.

When it comes to putting lives at risk there’s no alternative to a full and immediate reaction. It’s the right thing to do for your fellow man, and it also happens to be good for business in the long run. Why do anything else?

Erik & Jonathan Bernstein

Leave a Reply