Japanese airbag manufacturer Takata Corp. has filed for bankruptcy protection in the U.S., claiming it was the only way it could continue to recall and replace defective airbags linked to 16 deaths.
Takata’s inflators can explode with too much force when they fill up an air bag, spewing out shrapnel. Apart from the fatalities, they’re responsible for at least 180 injuries worldwide.
The dangers of Takata airbags came to light in late 2014 when a whistleblower, who had worked as an engineer at Takata for years, came forward requesting to testify his concerns to Congress. Shortly thereafter, Congress passed the Motor Vehicle Safety Whistleblowers Act, encouraging similar whistleblowers with concerns about automotive safety to report them to the government. (For more details, see this blog about the MVSWA.)