Takata Hit with NHTSA’s Largest-Ever Civil Penalty
Earlier this month, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) issued a pair of orders aimed at protecting the public from defective air bag components manufactured by Takata that were installed in roughly 19 million vehicles currently on the road. The agency’s orders represent the largest civil penalty it has ever imposed, as well as a mandate for Takata to increase the speed with which recall repairs are made.
According to NHTSA, the purpose of the orders is to hold Takata fully responsible for a series of failures and to keep the traveling public safe. Recalls concerning Takata products are being accelerated in an effort to have safe airbags installed into affected vehicles as quickly as possible. In addition, the agency has endeavored to set deadlines for future recalls of other of Takata’s inflators incorporating potentially dangerous propellant, unless the company can establish their safety before they take effect.
In announcing its latest actions, the agency railed against Takata’s history of manufacturing and selling defective automotive components, its refusal to admit its errors and its failure to supply complete information to consumers, the public at large and investigative bodies such as NHTSA. As a result, according to officials, Takata harmed large numbers of individuals and forced commencement of the largest, most complicated recall of its kind in history.
NHTSA’s Consent Order takes the significant step of imposing a $200 million civil penalty against Takata, representing an agency record. In addition, it requires Takata to rapidly begin phasing out the production and sale of airbag inflators using phase-stabilized ammonium nitrate propellants. These devices are thought to have been a contributing element in sudden ruptures responsible for seven fatalities and close to 100 injuries in the United States.
Adding to these severe sanctions, the agency’s orders also impose an unprecedented degree of oversight concerning Takata’s operations over the course of the next five years. An independent monitoring authority will be put into place and charged with assessment, tracking and reporting of Takata’s compliance with the mandates included in the November, 2015 orders.
NHTSA administrator Mark Rosekind commented on the Takata orders via the Department of Transportation’s official blog, stating that car owners across the country should utilize the agency’s VIN Lookup Tool at safer.car.gov/VIN to check if their vehicle is impacted by the recall. If consumers discover that their car or truck is affected, he urges them to get in touch with a local dealership immediately and schedule a repair appointment with all possible haste.
Rosekind emphasized the gravity of Takata’s conduct in connection with the defective airbag components and reminded consumers that each and every recall issued by NHTSA is a serious safety matter deserving of prompt attention. The agency hopes that the actions being taken against Takata send a strong signal to all manufacturers that the placement of defective products onto the market and subsequent resistance to corrective mandates and regulatory authorities will not be tolerated.