U.S. slams Takata with $14,000 daily fine over faulty airbags

February 20, 2015, 6:29 PM UTC
Takata Airbags Lead Toyota, Nissan To Recall 3 Million Cars
The airbag unit for the passenger seat of a Toyota Motor Corp. vehicle is seen at the company's showroom in Tokyo, Japan, on Thursday, April 11, 2013. Takata Corp. faces its biggest recall crisis in almost two decades after defective airbag inflators led Toyota Motor Corp., Honda Motor Co. and Nissan Motor Co. to call back more than 3 million vehicles. Photographer: Koichi Kamoshida/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Photograph by Koixhi Kamoshida — Bloomberg/Getty Images

The United States is fining airbag maker Takata Corp $14,000 per day for failing to cooperate fully with the government investigation into the company’s defective airbags, the U.S. transportation secretary said on Friday.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) issued two orders late last year requiring Takata to provide documentation and other material related to the agency’s investigation.

Takata did not comply, according to Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx.

“Safety is a shared responsibility and Takata’s failure to fully cooperate with our investigation is unacceptable and will not be tolerated,” Foxx said. “For each day that Takata fails to fully cooperate with our demands, we will hit them with another fine.”

The NHTSA has said that at least 7.8 million cars could be affected by defective Takata airbags.

The agency is trying to determine whether Takata airbag inflators made between 2000 and 2007 were improperly sealed. Bags inflating with too much force potentially could spray metal shrapnel at vehicle occupants. They have been linked to four deaths and resulted in several lawsuits.

Specifically, the government is accusing Takata of dumping more than 2.4 million pages of documents on NHTSA without any guide to or explanation of the content.
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“As you are well aware, NHTSA has repeatedly engaged Takata and asked for the company’s explanation of the content of the deluge of documents that it has produced thus far,” NHTSA said in a letter to Takata lawyer Steven Bradbury.

Saying that Takata has wasted agency time and resources, NHTSA concluded in its letter that the company was neither forthcoming nor cooperative. It said the $14,000 per day fine for violating two “special orders” seeking information would begin on Friday.

Representatives for Takata in the United States were not immediately available for comment.