In the late 1990s, General Motors got an unexpected and enticing offer. A little-known Japanese supplier, Takata, had designed a much cheaper automotive air bag.

GM turned to its air-bag supplier — the Swedish-American company Autoliv — and asked it to match the cheaper design or risk losing the automaker’s business, according to Linda Rink, who was a senior scientist at Autoliv assigned to the GM account at the time.

But when Autoliv’s scientists studied the Takata air bag, they found that it relied on a dangerously volatile compound in its inflater, a critical part that causes the air bag to expand.

“We just said, ‘No, we can’t do it. We’re not going to use it,’ ” said Robert Taylor, Autoliv’s head chemist until 2010.

Continue reading:  GM quest for cheaper air bag led to Takata and a deadly crisis

4 thoughts on “GM quest for cheaper air bag led to Takata and a deadly crisis

  1. “But workers at the La Grange factory would take the defective inflaters and test them repeatedly, to deplete the helium. With no helium left inside, the inflaters would pass the test, according to the engineer. The workers would then give the defective inflaters new bar-code identifiers, so the repeated testing could not be tracked.”

    I hope those at the top of the GM hierarchy have enjoyed their over-inflated bonuses at the expense of their customers.


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