TOKYO -- How does a company go from a global leader in its industry to filing for bankruptcy in a matter of years? Just ask Takata. The Japanese autoparts supplier controlled 20% of the air bag market until a protracted recall ballooned into an uncontrollable crisis. Now it is seeking bankruptcy protection in Japan and the U.S., its debts having mounted to 141.2 billion yen ($1.26 billion).
Nearly 100 million cars equipped with Takata air bags were recalled globally due to a defect with the ammonium nitrate propellant used to inflate them, which can violently explode during deployment due to degradation after prolonged exposure to high temperature and humidity.