Airbag maker ‘colluded’ with rivals
GLOBAL manufacturer Takata Corporation, and its local arm Takata South Africa, are facing hefty fines and prosecution on four separate cases involving price fixing, market division and collusive tendering.
A Competition Commission investigation shows the Japanbased firm colluded with other motor safety product suppliers in respect of tenders for Honda Civic, Honda CRV, BMW and Toyota Yaris vehicles.
Takata, Takata SA, TRW Automotive and TRW Occupant Restraints SA colluded on a tender issued by BMW in 2007 for the manufacture and supply of airbags, seat belts and steering wheels/ driver airbags for the BMW F25 (X3).
Takata and TRW disclosed their prices to each other and agreed not to compete with each other.
TRW won the tender to supply thorax airbags, curtain airbags and rear seat belts while Takata won the tender to supply airbags, front seat belts and steering wheel/driver airbags. This was in line with the collusive arrangement.
TRW subsequently approached the commission and applied for leniency in exchange for full information disclosure and cooperation with the commission when prosecuting Takata.
In 2007, Honda issued a tender for seat belts for Honda Civic vehicles. At the time, Takata supplied Honda Civic seat belts while US company Autoliv supplied seat belts for other Honda models. The companies – which are competitors – agreed to fix prices, divide markets and tender collusively.
The regulator says it is not seeking penalties against Autoliv and its subsidiary as it has settled with the commission. Autoliv concluded a settlement agreement with the commission last year and agreed to pay an administrative penalty of R149m.
Information that surfaced shows that at around 2008, Honda invited Autoliv and Takata, among others, to submit bids for a Honda Legends tender it had issued. During this time, Honda was also preparing to issue a tender for Honda CRV.
Takata and Autoliv discussed both tenders and agreed to coordinate prices and bids. This was to ensure that Takata would win the seat belts, airbags and steering wheels tender for the Honda Legend while Autoliv, in turn, would win the contract to supply seat belts for the Honda CRV motor vehicles.
Also in 2008,Toyota issued a tender and invited Autoliv, Takata and others to submit bids for a tender to supply seat belts for the Yaris.
These four cases are facing prosecution and the regulator says they must be held liable for penalties in each case.
PRICE OF SAFETY: Takata SA could be slapped with a hefty penalty over reported wrongdoing and price fixing in the car safety product sector.