Honda chief vows to go over development, raise quality
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.