April 25, 2017
Takata, the maker of the defective airbags found in millions of vehicles, has now pleaded guilty to accusations that it deceived automakers about the safety of the airbags it made. Currently, automakers are disputing allegations that they knowingly installed those defective airbags in their vehicles, but where does that leave the millions of the people in the US who are still waiting to have these potentially deadly airbags fixed or replaced?
It’s far from over
Legal proceedings over the defective airbags are still underway in court, even with Takata’s recent guilty plea in federal court. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that a little over 14 million of these airbags have been replaced, but that’s just a small percentage of the around 65 to 70 million airbags from Takata that were installed in a staggering 42 million cars (https://www.nhtsa.gov/recall-spotlight/takata-air-bags). NHTSA is currently estimating that the earliest all the repairs and replacements will be completed is some time during the year 2020.
This past month, Japanese manufacturer Takata pleaded guilty and agreed to pay $1 billion worth of penalties to settle the charges that it sold millions of defective airbags to auto manufacturers and knew of the safety risks the airbags posed. So far, these airbags have been linked to many injuries and 11 deaths. The airbag maker used a cheaper gas to inflate the airbags, but this made the airbags unstable and caused them to explode, sending shards of metal flying at victims.
A separate lawsuit has been filed against some of the installing automakers – Ford, Honda, Nissan, BMW and Toyota – that alleges these companies were aware of the defects in the airbags but decided to use them anyway. Honda has since issued a response to the allegations, denying that the company knew of the defects.
Why this recall is ongoing
The size and scope of this airbag recall is unprecedented. It’s the biggest recall in automotive history and the first one to be managed by the US government directly. NHTSA is handling the coordination efforts to make sure the limited available replacement parts go to cars with the biggest safety risk. Regulators designed a matrix that was based on location and the age of the vehicle, and older cars in areas with higher levels of humidity were given top priority. One particular problem in this recall involves the supply chain, as Takata is one of just a handful of companies making airbags, which means other makers had to ramp up their production to meet the recall demand. However, these companies didn’t have the capacity to handle the size of the recall to begin with, and they are still tasked with making airbags for new cars.
Currently, the completion rates are fairly low among automakers, with only Honda having one of more than 50 percent. Mercedes-Benz, for example, is reporting a completion rate of less than 1 percent, and BMW is at only 14 percent. The rest of the automakers are in the range of 20 to 30 percent complete for the airbag repairs.
Defective products like the Takata airbags can cause serious injury and even death to innocent consumers. Speak to an experienced product liability lawyer Denver CO trusts today if a defective product has harmed you or someone you love.