Japanese auto supplier, Takata, manipulated test results on airbag inflators, a person with direct knowledge of internal company documents has said.
According to a report in The New York Times, the data manipulation involved tests intended to demonstrate compliance with automakers’ design specifications, said this insider who was not authorized to speak.
Allegation Over Inaccurate Test Data
So far, eight deaths and more than 100 injuries have been connected to the faulty airbags manufactured by Takata, one of the world’s leading airbag makers. The inflators in these airbags can rupture, propelling shrapnel into the passenger compartment.
These faulty airbag inflators have led to the recall of more than 19 million vehicles in the United States and millions more worldwide.
This month, Honda dropped Takata as a supplier of certain inflators alleging that the airbag manufacturer misrepresented and manipulated test data. Honda has not given details, but has said that it is aware of instances where misleading or inaccurate data were provided to the automaker over time, related to testing.
Honda in fact alerted federal regulators to such evidence as it became available.
Penalties for Takata
The U.S. National Highway Safety Administration (NHTSA) slapped Takata with a $70 million penalty for not promptly disclosing the airbag defects.
The agency also alleged that Takata was providing them with selective, incomplete or inaccurate data. NHTSA could raise its penalty by $130 million if Takata does not follow the terms of the consent order. This could balloon into the biggest civil penalty in the history of the U.S. auto industry. Takata also faces criminal investigation by the Justice Department.
Since Honda’s announcement, Ford, Nissan and Toyota have also said publicly that they will not use certain Takata inflators.
Auto Product Liability Issues
If these reports are true, Takata has been lying to automakers and consumers with regard to the safety of its airbags. These faulty airbags are dangerous and have resulted in deaths and numerous injuries.
The defective airbag inflators basically send shrapnel flying out into the vehicle compartment endangering drivers and passengers.
If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident involving the faulty Takata airbag inflators, please ensure that your vehicle is preserved for a through expert examination.
Contact an experienced auto product liability attorney who can help you secure fair compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, hospitalization, rehabilitation, pain and suffering and other damages.