Japan’s Takata announced Wednesday that the company’s president, Stefan Stocker, will step down over the expensive recall of millions of vehicles fitted with defective air bags -- linked to multiple deaths worldwide -- produced by the components manufacturer.
Shigehisa Takada, the company’s chairman and CEO, will replace Stocker, a Swiss national who joined the Japanese automotive parts manufacturer as its first foreign president, Takata said in a statement, obtained by Reuters. Takata’s defective air bags have triggered the recalls of more than 24 million cars worldwide since 2008 and the leadership change will be effective from Wednesday.
According to Takata, the move is part of an attempt to accelerate the company’s decision-making process and unify its response on the recalls of the faulty air bags, which have reportedly been linked to at least five deaths so far, the Wall Street Journal reported, adding that Stocker will stay on as an executive director. All five deaths reportedly occurred in Honda Motor cars.
Both Honda and Mazda said last week that they were expanding previously announced recalls of their vehicles with defective air bag systems stating they “cannot rely on Takata to find the cause.” A New York Times report, citing former employees, had reported last month that a U.S.-based Takata unit had sought to discard evidence of tests proving the air bags' problems instead of reporting it to federal authorities.
General Motors also announced last week that it had developed contingency plans to source air bags for its cars from other companies if recalls linked to potentially lethal Takata-made air bag inflators had to be widened.