Takata Faces Rocky Road After Recalls. affected about 2.27 million Toyota vehicles worldwide
致駕駛於死地(2案例)。它讓日本的供應鍊的彈性和品質等管理問題浮出臺面。 Toyota Announces a U.S. Recall Over Faulty Passenger-Side Airbags
Affected models include the Toyota Corolla, Matrix, Tundra, Sequoia and the Lexus SC produced from 2001 to 2004.
Toyota is telling hundreds of thousands of Americans who use its cars not to let anyone sit in the passenger seat until faulty airbags are repaired.
On Monday, the automaker announced a fresh recall of about 247,000 vehicles; affected models include the Toyota Corolla, Matrix, Tundra, Sequoia and the Lexus SC that were produced from 2001 to 2004.
Toyota is one of several companies that use airbags manufactured by a company called Takata, which reportedly malfunction when exposed to excessive humidity. It said that the new recall will target vehicles in south Florida, Puerto Rico, Hawaii and other areas that experience sustained levels of high humidity.
Toyota said owners of the affected models in these areas will be directed to get their airbags replaced by the nearest dealer, unless the dealer does not have a replacement, in which case the front-passenger airbag would be temporarily disabled.
The company issued a similar warning in June to customers in Japan along with other automobile manufacturers like Honda, Nissan and Mazda, according to Bloomberg.
The airbag issue has apparently affected about 2.27 million Toyota vehicles worldwide.
The third-largest Japanese car maker by sales has begun buying an air-bag inflater from another supplier and is urging Takata to do the same, according to a person briefed on the matter. Other big Japanese auto makers also are re-evaluating their use of Takata parts.
The moves follow the discovery that defective air bags from Takata—some dating to the early 2000s—could send metal pieces into a car's cabin, injuring drivers and passengers. At least two people have died and more than 12 million cars from around a dozen car makers have been recalled over the past six years. The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is investigating, and Takata has booked hundreds of millions of dollars in losses.
To serve its far-flung customers, many of whom had shifted to just-in-time parts delivery to limit inventories, Takata kept plants in locations ranging from Malaysia to Morocco to Uruguay. European Pressphoto Agency
Big car makers are only now considering a change in how and where they buy their air bags, highlighting how entrenched and inflexible some automotive supply chains are, with a few companies supplying large swaths of the industry.
"What you've got now is such a perfect storm," said Scott Upham, a former manager at Takata and rival air-bag maker TRWTRW +0.01% Automotive Holdings Corp. who is now chief executive of Valient Market Research in Rochester, N.Y. "When one little thing goes wrong it affects almost anyone."
A Honda spokesman said the company has used multiple air-bag component suppliers for many years on various models, and that it wasn't unusual for it to diversify its supplier base for any component for a variety of reasons. He declined to disclose specific information about any of its supplier relationships, saying that in many cases such information is proprietary.
Takata declined interview requests, referring to a statement in which it said it "takes this matter very seriously, and is implementing initiatives throughout the organization to further strengthen quality control and prevent the recurrence of problems."
At issue is the inflater component. Takata's inflater uses a different propellant than most of its big rivals, which analysts say is cheaper but can be particularly volatile. A spokeswoman for Takata said it makes the safest and most environmentally friendly products available.
Honda is now ordering some of its inflaters from Osaka-based Daicel Corp.4202.TO -2.94% instead of Takata, according to a person familiar with the situation. Honda also is urging Takata to expand its use of outside suppliers of inflaters, the person said.
Rival air-bag makers, including industry leader AutolivALV +0.10% of Sweden, have said they hoped to gain new business. "There has been more focus on quality in general by car makers these days and the Takata recall is one reason for that," said Henrik Kaar, a spokesman, though he added that Autoliv had not seen new business directly attributable to the problems at Takata.
Air-bag manufacture is concentrated among a few companies, making it difficult for competitors to ramp up capacity in response to problems. Autoliv has a 35% market share, followed by TRW and Takata, with roughly 20% each. The remanding 25% is split among midsize companies such as Sterling Heights, Mich.-based Key Safety Systems Inc.
Switching parts suppliers in the middle of an automotive production run is difficult and costly. While some auto makers buy from several suppliers, the proliferation of many kinds of air bags—some cars are equipped with 10 or more—makes it harder to find backup sources.
Changing inflater suppliers is easier. Daicel, which says it has a market share of slightly more than 20% in inflaters, wants to raise that to 30% by 2020. Daicel already supplies Takata with about 20% of its inflaters, but hopes to increase that, said Masahiko Hirokawa, a Daicel spokesman. Takata declined to comment.
Other air-bag makers have suffered recalls, but none as extensive as Takata's. Takata has booked ¥74.7 billion (about $683 million) in losses related to air bags over the past two years, though it says the cost is within the allowances it has set aside.
Takata started in 1933, making first lifelines for parachutes, and then seat belts.
In the 1980s, Honda, which also holds a 1.2% stake in the company, suggested Takata go into air bags, according to a memoir by former Honda executive Saburo Kobayashi. Takata's then-CEO Juichiro Takada, the Columbia University-educated son of the company's founder, reluctantly agreed.
Mr. Takada launched the company on a series of acquisitions and expansions between the late 1980s and early 2000s, aimed at turning Takata into a global player. The auto-parts industry overall was consolidating, as car makers started buying in bigger quantities to keep costs down, and using the same parts over greater numbers of models.
Some air-bag producers pulled out of the business, deeming the manufacturing process too dangerous. The number of large air-bag suppliers dropped to three following a series of deals in the 1990s.
By 2006, aggressive expansion had transformed Takata into a company of 35,842 employees, with 46 factories in 17 countries, where nearly 80% of its ¥466 billion in revenue came from outside Japan.
But the rapid growth was exacting a toll on Takata's operations as well, people familiar with the company and industry analysts say.
To serve its far-flung customers, many of whom had shifted to just-in-time parts delivery to limit inventories, Takata kept plants in locations ranging from Malaysia to Morocco to Uruguay. It struggled to integrate those far-flung operations, and communication between the Japanese, European and North American divisions was poor, said people familiar with the company.
The problems that led to Takata's massive air-bag recalls date from that period of rapid growth.
The first signs of trouble came from four incidents of ruptured air bags that took place in 2007, Honda said. In 2008, the car maker recalled around 4,000 cars in North America.
After two years of investigations, Honda and Takata found a machine at Takata's Moses Lake factory in Washington state had failed to compress chemicals firmly enough. That left the inflaters vulnerable to moisture, potentially causing the bags to inflate more forcefully than they were supposed to, according to Honda and a 2013 letter from Takata to U.S. auto-safety regulators.
Honda and Takata discovered more problems. At Moses Lake, employees had switched off a mechanism that automatically checked whether the right amount of propellant was loaded in inflaters; at a plant in Monclova, Mexico, a dehumidifier that kept parts dry hadn't been turned on. At times poor record-keeping meant Honda and Takata couldn't figure out which cars had defective bags. After each discovery, recalls mounted.
In May, NHTSA met Takata officials to discuss ruptures in another batch of inflaters not covered by previous actions. That led in June to another round of recalls, and an unusual agreement to replace some air bags in areas with high humidity, even without an official recall.