February 24, 2015

NHTSA head says fines necessary to find cause of airbag defects

RECALL-monitor-takata-air-bag1The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration will fine automotive parts maker Takata $14,000 each day until it complies with a federal investigation into its faulty airbags. On February 20 2014, the NHTSA issued a pair of fines totaling $14,000 a day against the Japanese-based firm Takata. The fines were issued as part of Takata’s failure to comply with the federal investigation of faulty airbags installed in over 17 million vehicles across the U.S.  If Takata fails to properly respond to NHTSA requests in its probe of why the airbags are killing and maiming vehicle occupants the fines could total $70 million.

NHTSA head Anthony Foxx is determined to find out the reason why five deaths and hundreds of injuries nationwide are linked to the faulty Takata airbags.  The NHTSA issued a pair of special orders in October and November 2014 demanding internal company documents from Takata to understand why its defective airbags are exploding in the faces and chests of drivers and occupants.

Takata responded by essentially dumping 2.4 million pages of documents on the NHTSA without any explanation or direction to find the answers federal investigators seek.  The NHTSA took this a sign of non-compliance on the part of Takata since the agency made specific requests for documents in its probe of what and when Takata knew about the risk its airbags posed to consumers.

Takata is also refusing to comply with federal requests to expand its recall beyond U.S. states and territories prone to the high temperatures and humidity linked to defects in the airbags.

Most of the major auto manufacturers who produced vehicles equipped with the defective Takata airbags have already issued their own nationwide recalls.  It is estimated that under 10% of the 17 million vehicles subject to the recall have seen repair and the entire process is estimated to take two years to complete.

Honda CEO resigns after 7M cars with Takata airbags recalled

Takanobu Ito, the CEO of Honda Motor Corp for the past six years, will resign from his post amid a slew of recalls and regulatory fines levied against the company.  Honda recalled almost 7 million cars as part of the process to replace faulty Takata airbags which have been linked to six deaths in Honda vehicles worldwide.  Honda was also the subject of a $70 million fine by the NHTSA over its failure to disclose 1,700 injuries and multiple deaths over a period spanning 11 years.

Ito’s tenure will end in June but will continue to serve the Honda on its board of directors and as an advisor.  He joined Honda in 1978 as an engineer and rose through the ranks to become the company’s chief officer.  Ito will be replaced by Takahiro Hachigo, the company’s current managing director.