Takata President, COO Steps Down To “Unify” Response To Massive Airbag Issues

takataTakata Corp., the auto parts supplier behind the airbags responsible for more than 20 million vehicle recalls, is apparently taking steps to “unify” its response to the massive safety issue by replacing its president and COO.

The Wall Street Journal reports that Stefan Stocker will be replaced by Shigehisa Takata, the company’s chairman and CEO.

Officials with Takata say the executive shift is intended to speed up decision-making related to the massive safety issue. However, a spokesperson says Stocker’s decision to step down isn’t a move to take responsibility for the massive recall.

“Mr. Stocker decided to resign due to personal reasons,” Akiko Watanabe, a company spokesperson, says.
“He believes it is better for Takata to streamline its efforts to deal with the situation.”

Still, Shigehisa Takata has yet to publicly appear in public to address questions about the recall of the airbags.

His only semi-public address came when he signed a recent open letter published in an advertisement in several major U.S. and German newspapers that promised the company would work with regulators to fix the safety problems.

In fact, the company sent a senior vice president as the only Takata representative to address a U.S. congressional hearing in November. At that time Hiroshi Shimizu said the company wouldn’t initiate a national recall despite federal regulators urging to do so. He said the decision was made, in part, because the company doesn’t believe that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has the power to order such an initiative and because testing hasn’t shown what’s really behind the issue.

Stocker joined the company in 2013 as its first non-Japanese president. He will stay on with Takata as a director.

In addition to the shake-up in the executive offices at Takata, the WSJ reports that Shigehisa Takata’s salary will be halved and Stocker’s will be cut by 30% for four months.

A spokesman for the company didn’t elaborate on why the cuts were being made, but if the company is found to responsible for the issues related to the massive recall, it could foot the bill for the entire ordeal.

Takata President Steps Down Over Air-Bag Recalls [The Wall Street Journal]

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