Japanese automotive parts manufacturer Takata Corp. has filed for bankruptcy in Japan and the United States. The company has reportedly been overwhelmed by lawsuits and recall costs associated with its production of defective air bag inflators that have been linked to the deaths of at least 16 people and the injuries of nearly 180 others.
The company announced Monday morning Tokyo time that most of its assets will be bought by rival Key Safety Systems, based in suburban Detroit, for about $1.6 billion (175 billion yen). Under the agreement with Key, remnants of Takata’s operations will continue to manufacture inflators to be used as replacement parts in recalls.
The recalls, which are being handled by 19 affected automakers, will continue. Although Takata will use part of the sale proceeds to reimburse the automakers, experts say the companies still must fund a significant portion of the recalls themselves. So far 100 million inflators have been recalled worldwide including 69 million in the U.S., affecting 42 million vehicles.
The Takata corporate name may not live on after the bankruptcy. The company says on its website that its products have kept people safe, and it apologizes for problems caused by the faulty inflators. “We hope the day will come when the word ‘Takata’ becomes synonymous with ‘safety,’” the website says.
What does this mean for the Takata racing products that we enthusiasts know and love? There has been no official word yet addressing the Takata Racing brand, but we expect there will be significant changes coming soon. So get your Takata Racing products while they’re still around.