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Takata Fined $14K Daily By Fed Over Deadly Airbag Recall

Takata Airbags

The world’s largest airbag maker, Takata, has been slammed with a $14,000 a day fine by the fed until it complies with federal demands to provide more information on air bags which have resulted in the deaths of six people and the maiming of dozens more.

The most recent death attributed to a Takata air bag was that of 35-year-old Carlos Solis of Houston, Texas. The used car which deployed the bag was under recall when he purchased it, according to the NHTSA.

United States Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx indicated in Friday that the company’s air bags “can explode with such force” that they are capable of inducing grievous injury to those unfortunate enough to be blasted with metal shards as a result of the metal inflation canisters being shattered by the propellant contained within them.

Those air bags can explode with such force that they have grievously injured people and, in a half-dozen cases­, killed them […] To remove that threat and get to the root cause of this defect, we need Takata’s cooperation, and so far they have not demonstrated it. […] We’ve pushed hard to get millions of defective Takata air bags off our roads [The National High Traffic Administration] has issued two orders compelling Takata to provide the documents and information we need to fix this problem, and the company has failed to abide by those orders. Takata’s failure to fully cooperate with our investigation is unacceptable and will not be tolerated.

More than 22 million vehicles globally, 17 million of which are in the United States, have been recalled by automakers as a result of the potentially hazardous Takata air bags, according to a report by the Washington Post. The report also indicated that only 2 million of the 17 million U.S. vehicles had been repaired as of December of 2014.

Foxx requested that Congress require rental cars and used cars for sale that are under recall be repaired prior to being rented or sold.

The Japanese company was first threatened with the recently levied fines back in November of 2014.

Takata issued a statement on Friday in which it said that it was “surprised and disappointed” with the fine. The company went on to “strongly disagree with” the NHTSA’s claim that they have been anything less than cooperative, stating that they’ve “provided the agency with almost 2.5 million pages of documents to date.”

We strongly disagree with their characterization that we have not been fully cooperating with them […] We have provided the agency with almost 2.5 million pages of documents to date. We have also been meeting regularly with NHTSA engineers on efforts to identify the root cause of the inflator issue.

NHTSA spokesman Gordon Trowbridge told reporters during a conference call that the company “has failed to provide the information we need to analyze the 2.4 million documents it has produced.”

The federal agency sent the company a letter on Friday in which it said that the company was being neither forthcoming nor cooperative with the ongoing investigation into the company’s air-bags.

The problem with the bags first emerged more than six years ago and since then, ten auto-manufacturers have issued air-bag recalls. The automakers include BMW, Subaru, Toyota, Honda, General Motors, Ford, Chrysler, Nissan, Mazda, and Mitsubishi.

Regulators initial impression of the problem, a view which Takata still retains, was that the inflator explosions were being cased by sustained exposure to humidity and heat.

Currently, the NHTSA is under the impression that the inflator propellant the company uses, which is ammonium nitrate, burns more quickly than intended after it has been exposed to prolonged moisture in the air and that a fast burn can lead to the metal canister exploding instead of containing the explosion.

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