Senators say Takata may have placed profits over safety by halting factory safety audits

MarketsAssociated Press

A group of U.S. senators says automotive air bag maker Takata Corp. may have placed profit over safety by halting safety audits of factories.

Minority members of the Senate Commerce Committee cite Takata emails showing the audits were stopped from 2009 to 2011 for financial reasons.

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Inflators in Takata air bags can explode with too much force, sending metal shrapnel into drivers and passengers. The problem has caused at least eight deaths and 105 injuries.

Once audits were resumed, a safety director faulted a factory in Mexico for failing to properly close bags of air bag propellant and for storing contaminated propellant near good materials.

Takata says the emails were taken out of context. They were released in a report on the eve of a committee hearing on Takata problems.