WASHINGTON (CN) – Takata was fined a record $70 million Tuesday for concealing defects in its airbags, which have been blamed for seven deaths and nearly 100 injuries in the United States.
The consent order actually fined Takata $200 million, but $130 million will be suspended if Takata abides by the terms of the order, unless more violations of the Motor Vehicle Safety Act are discovered.
It is the largest fine ever issued by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the agency said Tuesday. The NHTSA called it “the largest, most complex safety recall in history.”
More than 19 million Takata airbags have been recalled in the United States, for their tendency to rupture violently after long-term exposure to heat and humidity. Millions more have been recalled overseas.
The NHTSA issued two consent orders in the case Tuesday. In addition to the fine, it used its authority for the first time to accelerate repairs, and to set priorities so the greatest safety risks are fixed first.
The federal agency orders Takata to “phase out” its airbag inflators that use phase-stabilized ammonium nitrate propellant, the NHTSA said in a statement. The propellant is blamed for the explosive ruptures which have killed and hurt drivers with metal shards.
Also Tuesday, Honda announced it was dropping Takata as an airbag supplier.
Takata admitted that it knew the bags were defective but did not recall them, and that it supplied its customers and the NHTSA with selective, incomplete or inaccurate data about the airbags since 2009, the NHTSA said.
Twelve automaking companies used Takata airbags, until Honda dropped it.
Takata must fix the most dangerous airbags by June 2016 and all of them by the end of 2019.
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