Honda Motor Company has said it will no longer use Takata Corporation’s front driver or passenger airbag inflators in new vehicles. According to a report in The Wall Street Journal, the Japanese automaker is alleging that Takata misrepresented and manipulated test data. This decision from Honda came on the same day that the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration hit Takata with a $70 million fine for lapses with rupture-prone airbags.
Allegations of Misrepresentation
NHTSA also ordered the company to stop using an ammonium nitrate-based propellant in its inflators, which is believed to cause the problem that has led to at least eight deaths and scores of serious injuries. Several automakers have recalled millions of vehicles equipped with these Takata airbags that can shoot out shrapnel into the vehicle compartment after the airbag deploys.
The shards of metal have caused serious or fatal injuries. Honda, Takata’s largest customer, said after reviewing millions of pages of internal documents from Takata, it has determined that the airbag supplier misrepresented and manipulated test data for certain airbag inflators. Takata has already come out with a statement denying that allegation.
Fines and Orders
However, Takata is paying unprecedented government fines because regulators say the company misled them by providing incomplete or inaccurate information on the safety defect dating back to at least 2009. Under the terms of its settlement with NHTSA, Takata will pay $70 million in six installments over five years and will be forced to pay an additional $130 million if it violates terms of the settlement.
Regulators also issued an unprecedented order to Takata to speed recalls of problematic airbags amid concerns that the repairs have been painfully slow. The agency prioritized repairs of vehicles with older air bags with prolonged exposure to humid climates, ordering car manufacturers to fix those vehicles by the end of 2017. So far, only 22.5 percent of the 19 million affected vehicles have been repaired.
Protecting Your Rights
If you or a loved one has been injured by a defective Takata airbag inflator, please contact an experienced auto product liability attorney to obtain more information about pursuing your legal rights. You may be eligible to receive compensation for damages including medical expenses, lost income, hospitalization, rehabilitation, pain and suffering and emotional distress. The best auto defect law firms will always offer a free consultation and comprehensive case evaluation to injured victims and their families.