The federal government will fine the Japanese air bag maker Takata Corp. $14,000 a day for what it said was the company’s failure to cooperate with an investigation into defective devices. The faulty air bags are eyed in five deaths and led to the recalls of millions of cars.
U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx on Friday said Takata has not “fully cooperated” with two orders requiring the company to provide documents and other materials to investigators. He called Takata a “bad actor."
"Safety is a shared responsibility and Takata’s failure to fully cooperate with our investigation is unacceptable and will not be tolerated," Foxx said. "For each day that Takata fails to fully cooperate with our demands, we will hit them with another fine."
Takata bristled at the accusation, saying in a statement "we strongly disagree with their characterization that we have not been fully cooperating with them." The company said it has turned over 2.5 million pages of documents so far.
The faulty airbags can deploy with too much force and send shards of plastic and bits of metal into drivers and passengers. Three deaths and 52 injuries have been confirmed to have been caused by the air bags, and the faulty devices are suspected in two other deaths, Honda has said.
Many of the dangerous airbags have not been replaced. Of the 17 million cars in the U.S. recalled due to faulty air bags, only 2 million had been repaired as of the end of December, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said. More than 24 million cars have cars have been recalled worldwide.
— Phil Helsel