Honda chief vows to go over de­vel­op­ment, raise qual­ity

The Pak Banker - - COMPANIES/BOSS -

TOKYO: Honda Mo­tor Co Pres­i­dent Takanobu Ito, be­set by record re­calls last year, told sup­pli­ers the car­maker will ex­am­ine op­er­a­tions to im­prove qual­ity and safety stan­dards.

Ito spoke about Honda's qual­ity is­sues in the past year in an ad­dress to sup­pli­ers to­day and apol­o­gized for re­calls and new prod­uct de­lays, said Akemi Ando, a spokes­woman for the au­tomaker. He pledged to scru­ti­nize de­vel­op­ment and asked for support from sup­pli­ers, Ando said.

The ex­ec­u­tive's re­marks come after Honda agreed to pay a record $70 mil­lion in fines and sub­mit to stricter over­sight for fail­ing to tell the U.S. gov­ern­ment about war­ranty claims and more than 1,700 in­juries and deaths linked to po­ten­tial de­fects in its cars. Ito led the company through a calami­tous 2014 that saw deaths in Honda ve­hi­cles linked to Takata Corp. (7312)'s air bags and record re­calls to fix sep­a­rate flaws in some of its most cru­cial mod­els.

Takata Chair­man Shige­hisa Takada, who was es­corted into the ho­tel ball­room by Honda staff, said after the gath­er­ing that the company is mak­ing ev­ery ef­fort to find the root cause of de­fects that caused air bags to de­ploy ab­nor­mally, spew­ing metal shards at pas­sen­gers.

"Safety is the first pri­or­ity and all we should be fo­cus­ing on," he said in the first com­ments to for­eign me­dia since the cri­sis erupted. Takada said in an in­ter­view with the Nikkei last month that the Tokyo-based parts sup­plier is adding ca­pac­ity to make re­place­ment com­po­nents.

De­fec­tive Takata air bags have led to re­calls of more than 13 mil­lion Honda cars glob­ally and killed five Honda users in the U.S. and Malaysia. The Tokyo-based car­maker has since 2013 also re­called its top-sell­ing Fit com­pact model in Ja­pan five times be­cause of soft­ware mal­func­tions, prompt­ing de­lays in other new car in­tro­duc­tions.

Ito men­tioned Takata in his speech, ac­cord­ing to ZF Ja­pan Co. Pres­i­dent Richard Krack­lauer, who was present at the gath­er­ing at the Ho­tel New Otani in Tokyo. "If we are to con­tinue business with Honda, we have to take a closer look at our sup­pli­ers" and prove the qual­ity to Honda, Krack­lauer said in an in­ter­view after the meet­ing.

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