The National Highway Safety Administration began to impose a $14,000 fine a day on Japanese automotive parts company Takata Corp. for not cooperating with the investigation into the company’s defective airbags, the Washington Post reported on February 20.
So far, 17 million vehicles have been recalled since 2008, although only around 2 million of those have been fixed. There is a shortage of parts to repair vehicles.
Federal investigators think a prolonged exposure to moisture in the air allows the inflator chemical to burn too quickly. They are planning to issue an order during the last week of February that mandates people who sued Takata to share with them the results of air bag safety tests.
Takata is protesting the federal agency’s actions, asserting that they have a right to mandate recalls by automakers, but not auto parts suppliers.
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The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is having to answer for its failure to recall GM’s Chevy Cobalt and Saturn Ion for air bag defects, according to a report from safetyresearch.net.
Critics were outraged to discover that the NHTSA did not issue a recall after the air bags failed to deploy in at least 43 accidents, resulting in 27 injuries and four deaths since the first incident was reported in 2005. Earlier this year, David Friedman, NHTSA Acting Administrator, stated at a House Committee on Energy and Commerce meeting that there was no reason to issue a recall because there was not a statistically significant rate of air bag malfunction compared to other manufacturers.
A recent analysis, however, shows that the agency was considering Chevy and Saturn as individual entities, rather than all under GM; if compiled under their parent company, incidence of complaints do become statistically significant, revealing a 54% higher reported rate of air bag failure compared to other automakers.
Protesters are outraged that another potentially fatal auto defect was concealed from the public for so long. Some believe that the NHTSA’s fierce defense is due to concerns about defending their reputation after the GM ignition switch debacle.