Takata Fined $70 Million for Faulty Airbags

House Energy and Commerce Committee Hearing On Takata Airbag Recalls
Hiroshi Shimizu, senior vice president of global quality assurance at Takata Corp., left, speaks during a House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee hearing with Rick Schostek, executive vice president of Honda North America Inc., in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Wednesday, Dec. 3, 2014. Takata Corp. snubbed the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) yesterday in refusing to expand recalls beyond high-humidity areas, where four motorists have died and about 8 million cars have been called back. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Photograph by Andrew Harrer — Bloomberg via Getty Images

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s long-running investigation into Takata’s defective airbags is finally culminating in a $70 million fine.

The company is being fined for neglecting to make federal regulators aware of the faulty equipment in a timely manner. It supposedly knew of the malfunctions since 2004, but only reported them four years later.

The airbags have been known to rupture and spew metal fragments, resulting in eight deaths and dozens of injuries. In the U.S. alone, 19 million vehicles produced by 12 different car manufacturers that use the Japanese-manufactured airbags have been recalled, with millions more recalls abroad.

In addition to the $70 million penalty, which will be payable in installments over the next five years, the Wall Street Journal reports that an independent monitor will be appointed to audit Takata’s safety practices. If the company violates the terms of the settlement or the federal law, it will have to pay an addition $130 million.

The NHTSA slapped Takata with a daily fine of $14,000 earlier this year, claiming that the company was uncooperative during the investigative process. The agency accused the company of handing over 2.4 million pages of documents with no guidance, effectively wasting time and resources.

Though a settlement has been reached, the recall could continue to grow. General Motors recently recalled 400 cars because of faulty side airbags, which were not included in the original investigation.

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