Friday, December 5, 2014

Toyota won't risk staff visit to Takata Mexico aibag plant but will apparently risk using airbags made there

"Dec. 5 (Bloomberg) -- Takata Corp. said it will fix lapses identified by the Mexico government at the same air-bag plant that Toyota Motor Corp. prevented its own employees from visiting for unspecified safety concerns.

Takata will address by January the remaining 26 of 171 health and safety measures ordered by a Mexican government agency after an inspection four months ago, Alby Berman, a spokesman for the Tokyo-based company, said in an e-mail. Toyota told a U.S. regulator last month that an on-site review of the plant “was not possible due to internal travel restrictions for the safety of our associates.”

WashPost-Bloomberg- Takata plant safety violations

The Mexican government won't say what the safety concerns are all about. But let me speculate on why Toyota did not send its staff there.

Maybe Toyota learned enough about these safety violations to decide not to send a staff member to visit - could that mean the ammonium nitrate stored in the plant was dangerous? Maybe it was fear of executive kidnapping, endemic in Mexico...but then, how can they buy from a plant that they are too scared to visit? Or could Toyota be taking the Wilfull Blindness approach, where the less they know, the more they think they can avoid sharing the liability with Takata?

Whatever reason, a Tier 1 supplier plant that Toyota won't visit is a plant that Toyota cannot possibly ensure is producing a safe, high-quality product.

Question: Are Takata and Toyota attempting to shift legal liability onto one another to flummox regulators, plaintiffs--and prosecutors?