Honda Motor Company has announced that they will stop using Takata’s front driver and passenger airbag inflators for upcoming models after studies found that the supplier misrepresented and manipulated test data, as reported by The Wall Street Journal.
This announcement follows after Takata was slapped with a RM300 million fine (or USD70 million) for lapses with their faulty inflator module. Investigators have zeroed in on the defect and found that the airbag inflators, which are prone to exploding (and causing deaths), is caused by using controversial propellants made of ammonium nitrate. Over 19 million cars in the United States are affected and thus recalled for replacement.
What causes the defect, then? One reason is that the inflators will start to give way after long-term exposure to humidity. However, after eight years of battling this issue, the root cause for these ruptures have yet to be determined. Currently, five car manufacturers – Mazda, BMW, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, Ford and Honda (Takata’s biggest customer with a small stake in the company) make up 14 million of the recalled vehicles and 18 million inflators.
The Japanese airbag manufacturer has misled regulators in a presentation which took place in January 2012 by providing incomplete or inaccurate information on the defect. This led to eight deaths and and dozens other injured after the inflators exploded and sprayed shrapnels in the vehicles’ cabin. Regulators have ordered Takata to stop using phase-stabilised ammonium nitrate by the end of 2018.
Takata will pay the RM300m fine in six instalments over a period of five years under the settlement’s terms, which if violated, will see the amount skyrocket to RM850 million or USD200 million – a record penalty. Similarly, Honda also received a RM300 million of regulatory fine for reporting lapses pertaining to the airbag issue.
Source: The Wall Street Journal