Feds Hit Takata With $70M Fine For Defective Airbags

Aaron Cole
by Aaron Cole

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration announced Tuesday it would fine auto supplier Takata $70 million for its defective airbags that have caused seven deaths and nearly 100 injuries.

Regulators announced that an additional $130 million fine could be levied on the supplier if they do not comply with additional safety standards or if more defects are found.

“For years, Takata has built and sold defective products, refused to acknowledge the defect, and failed to provide full information to NHTSA, its customers, or the public,” Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said in a statement. “The result of that delay and denial has harmed scores of consumers and caused the largest, most complex safety recall in history. Today’s actions represent aggressive use of NHTSA’s authority to clean up these problems and protect public safety.”

In addition to the fines, NHTSA said it would scrutinize further operations by the supplier. As part of the consent order with the company, Takata agreed that it had failed to recall faulty airbags, and lied to investigators and the public.

The safety authority said it would appoint an independent monitor for the company for the next five years.

Additionally, NHTSA said it would speed recalls of defective airbags, which were fitted into 19 million cars made by 12 different automakers. In all, NHTSA said 23 million inflators could be affected.

“Today, we are holding Takata responsible for its failures, and we are taking strong action to protect the traveling public,” NHTSA Administrator Mark Rosekind said in a statement. “We are accelerating Takata recalls to get safe air bags into American vehicles more quickly, ensuring that consumers at the greatest risk are protected, and addressing the long-term risk of Takata’s use of a suspect propellant.”

NHTSA said it would replace high-risk airbags by June 2016 and all affected airbags would be removed by 2019.

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  • Cantankerous Cantankerous on Nov 04, 2015

    My first impression upon hearing the $70 million figure was that, although large compared to previous fines, it was pretty small considering the scope and heinousness of Takata's deceipt. However, upon further reflection I'm guessing that the Feds wanted to avoid levying a fine so large it would guarantee bankruptcy, both so that Takata will remain in business long enough to manufacture replacements for all those defective airbags (my family alone owns *three* affected vehicles) and to make sure there'd be some money left over for the inevitable host of civil suits.

  • TrailerTrash TrailerTrash on Nov 04, 2015

    I don't want to start trouble, but I do have an honest question. What good are airbags? If worn, would not shoulder safety belt do everything an airbag would do without causing further damage to the face and head...as I understand airbags do? I understand there is some weakness to the designs of shoulder/chest belts, but could these not be addressed before forcing the use of airbags which do work only with explosions of hard material into faces? Could not the belts be better improved to perform more safely than airbags? The most dangerous airbag, IMO, is the front off the wheel or dash. Perhaps limiting them to window drop down or foot-well explosions would be a much better government demand than forcing the explosions into passenger faces. This was, after all, all government driven.

    • See 3 previous
    • TrailerTrash TrailerTrash on Nov 04, 2015

      Kyree I am trying to make a point...and much of it is the "someone consciously choosing" vs government forced. I suppose this is going to lead nowhere, since any personal choice today is the opinion of the village. From suicide to driving without a seat-belt to riding a bicycle without a helmet...all rules being written in pencil by the majority...with or without logic. You can take a side and justify it in any way you wish. But it is still a manipulation of the individual's right...or no right.

  • Make_light I drive a 2015 A4 and had one of these as a loaner once. It was a huge disappointment (and I would have considered purchasing one as my next car--I'm something of a small crossover apologist). The engine sounded insanely coarse and unrefined (to the point that I wasn't sure if it was poor insulation or there was something wrong with my loaner). The seats, interior materials, and NVH were a huge downgrade compared to my dated A4. I get that they are a completely different class of car, but the contrast struck me. The Q3 just didn't feel like a luxury vehicle at all. Friends of mine drive a Tiguan and I can't think of one way in which the Q3 feels worth the extra cost. My mom's CX-5 is better than either in every conceivable way.
  • Arthur Dailey Personally I prefer a 1970s velour interior to the leather interior. And also prefer the instrument panel and steering wheel introduced later in the Mark series to the ones in the photograph. I have never seen a Mark III or IV with a 'centre console'. Was that even an option for the Mark IV? Rather than bucket seats they had the exceptional and sorely missed 60/40 front seating. The most comfortable seats of all for a man of a 'certain size'. In retrospect this may mark the point when Cadillac lost it mojo. Through the early to mid/late 70's Lincoln surpassed Cadillac in 'prestige/pride of place'. Then the 'imports' took over in the 1980s with the rise of the 'yuppies'.
  • Arthur Dailey Really enjoying this series and the author's writing style. My love of PLC's is well known. And my dream stated many times would be to 'resto mod' a Pucci edition Mark IV. I did have a '78 T-Bird, acquired brand new. Preferred the looks of the T-Bird of this generation to the Cougar. Hideaway headlights, the T-Birds roof treatment and grille. Mine had the 400 cid engine. Please what is with the engine displacements listed in the article? I am Canada and still prefer using cubic inches when referencing any domestic vehicles manufactured in the 20th century. As for my T-Bird the engine and transmission were reliable. Not so much some of the other mechanical components. Alternator, starter, carburetor. The vehicle refused to start multiple times, usually during the coldest nights/days or in the most out of the way spots. My friends were sure that it was trying to kill me. Otherwise a really nice, quiet, 'floaty' ride, with easy 'one finger' steering and excellent 60/40 split front seat. One of these with modern mechanicals/components would be a most excellent highway cruiser.
  • FreedMike Maybe they should buy Twitter now.
  • FreedMike A lot of what people are calling "turbo lag" may actually be the transmission. In this case, Audi used a standard automatic in this application versus the DSG, and that makes a big difference. The pre-2022 VW Arteon had the same issue - plenty of HP, but the transmission held it back. If Audi had used the DSG, this would be a substantially quicker, more engaging car. In any case, I don't get these "entry lux" compact CUVs (think: Cadillac XT4, Lexus NX, BMW X1, etc). If you must have a compact CUV, I can think of far better options for a lot less money. And, no, the Tiguan isn't one of them - it has the Miller-cycle 2.0T, so it's a dog. But a Mazda CX-30 with the 2.5T would fit the bill.