Two former Takata employees, now whistleblowers say Takata knew in 2004 and ran tests that confirmed it then, they say. The Japanese manufacturer Takata actually secretly conducted tests on 50 airbags recovered from scrapyards, say the two former employees involved in the tests, one of whom was a senior member of its testing lab. The metal inflaters in two of the airbags cracked during the tests, a condition that can lead to rupture, the former employees said. As a result of these tests in 2004, the engineers began designing possible fixes in preparation for a recall, the former employees said.
Takata executives never informed the authorities or government agencies of the findings and ordered the lab technicians to delete the testing data from their computers and dispose of the airbag inflaters in the trash, they said. Legal experts are reviewing these assertions now to see what it might mean in terms of criminal or civil proceedings in the United States or elsewhere.
The secret tests were performed after normal work hours and on weekends and holidays during summer 2004 at Takata’s American headquarters in Auburn Hills, Mich.,according to the former employees involved in the testing.