Internal emails related to the massive Takata airbag recall appear to show Takata employees openly discussing maniputation of testing data, according to an article recently published in the Alaska Dispatch News from documents obtained by the New York Times.
A personal injury lawsuit by a woman paralyzed from a Takata airbag deployment caused the documents to be unsealed.
“Happy Manipulating!!!” an airbag engineer, Bob Schubert, wrote in one email dated July 6, 2006, in a reference to results of airbag tests. In another, he wrote of changing the colors or lines in a graphic “to divert attention” from the test results and “to try to dress it up.”
Both Honda and airbag experts questioned by the New York Times believe the emails suggest that there was an effort made to misrepresent the testing data.
Concerns were first raised by US-based engineers at Takata about data manipulation dating as far back as November of 2000 as Takata prepared to release a new type inflator.
Then in January 2005, Schubert [an airbag engineer at Takata] alerted a colleague in a memo that he had been “repeatedly exposed to the Japanese practice of altering data presented to the customer,” adding that such conduct was described at Takata as “the way we do business in Japan.”
In the memo, Schubert warned that while the fudging of the data had initially not changed the fundamental conclusions of the data, the practice had “gone beyond all reasonable bounds and now most likely constitutes fraud.”
Takata denies that the manipulation of test results alters the underlying results and that any data manipulation is unrelated to the massive recalls.