Takata airbag recall

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MIA calls on Govt. for assistance with airbag recall

A technician holds a recalled Takata airbag inflator.

At present, there is around 320,000 new and used vehicles in New Zealand affected by the Takata recall process, of which the owners of approximately two thirds have received letters (recall notices) and around 134,000 owners have bought their vehicles in for the recall to be completed. 

The faulty Takata airbags has led to at least 23 deaths worldwide and more than 230 serious injuries. Takata’s airbag inflators can explode with excessive force, unleashing metal shrapnel inside cars and trucks.

David Crawford, Chief Executive Officer of the Motor Industry Association (MIA) says “this is large and complex logistical issue affecting new and used vehicles with two different types of Takata airbags and current owners of vehicles having a choice as to whether they want to close out the recall. At present there is no mandatory process requiring owners of vehicles to undertake a recall if they are notified by the manufacturer to do so.”

Consequently, the MIA has asked the Government to find a mechanism which requires owners of affected vehicles to bring their vehicles into a franchised dealer for the recalled component to be replaced if they do not respond to letters from manufacturers within a reasonable time period.

The MIA are also want assistance with preventing used imported vehicles from completing import compliance unless those importing vehicles can demonstrate those vehicles have had their recalls completed.

This follows from yesterday’s announcement by the Australian government, who announced that they are ordering a compulsory recall of more than 2 million cars fitted with Takata airbags. The compulsory recall is one of the largest of its kind and follows voluntary recalls by carmakers last year affecting 1.7 million vehicles.

For more on this story, read the March issue of Autofile magazine. Subscribe here.

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Australia recalls 2.3 million cars

The Australian government has issued a compulsory recall of more 2 million vehicles fitted with defective air bags made by Japanese auto parts maker Takata Corp.

Speaking at a news conference in Canberra, Assistant Minister to the Treasurer Michael Sukkar said the recall of 2.3 million vehicles was the “largest and most significant recall in the nation’s history.”

“The compulsory recall will force manufacturers, dealers, importers and other suppliers to ensure that all dangerous Takata airbags are located and replaced as quickly as possible,” Sukkar said.

The assistant minister said that 4 million Australian cars in total had been affected by the defective airbags, or about two in seven cars on the road.

“Tragically there’s been one death and one case of serious injury in Australia as a result of the deployment of these airbags, and the government just doesn’t want to see anymore,” he said.

The motor industry’s peak body, the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI), said the industry would move “heaven and earth” to satisfy the requirements of the compulsory Takata airbag recall announced today by the Federal Government.

“The safety of our customers is our utmost priority,” FCAI Chief Executive Tony Weber said.

“That’s why the industry will do its utmost to comply with the conditions set down in the legislation.”

“We already know from the voluntary recall which has been underway for some years that there are a number of significant issues in getting the affected vehicles rectified. These include difficulties contacting the affected customers, constraints imposed by replacement airbag supply and the ability of the networks to process such a huge number of vehicles.”

“However, we know our brands are determined to do their part and have in place strategies to prioritise vehicles and have this recall addressed by 31 December 2020, as determined by the Minister.”

Around 4 million vehicles have been identified as affected by the recall. However, some 1.7 million have already been rectified by the industry under the previous voluntary agreement conducted over a number of years and in full consultation with the Federal government and the ACCC.

A further 859,000 cars were added under the compulsory recall announced today.

Cars on the compulsory recall list include various models that have already been subject to a voluntary recall — Toyota, Mazda, Honda, BMW, Chrysler, Lexus, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Subaru and several others.

“We are calling on the state and territory governments to work with us on this issue, as we know that will deliver the safest outcome. Surely that is what we all want.”

No plans to initiate such a move in New Zealand

While the Australian government has announced a recall, the NZ Transport Agency (NZTA) says there are no plans to initiate the same here in New Zealand.

Currently, there are voluntary recalls being undertaken by several different manufacturers in New Zealand. But no reported incidents related to faulty Takata airbags.

The NZTA told Stuff: “The NZ Transport Agency is working with the vehicle industry to ensure that the current voluntary recalls are carried out to a satisfactory level, and that all of the manufacturers involved in the recall are offering the appropriate repair or replacement to vehicle owners.”

In October last year, it was revealed that around 300,000 vehicles in New Zealand were affected by the fault. A Fair Go investigation at the time showed just 60,000 of the 300,000 vehicles in New Zealand had been fixed, prompting numerous media stories about the recall.

Click here to read the NZTA’s most commonly asked questions regarding the recall.

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Takata airbag led to Louisiana death

Honda says another person has been killed by an exploding Takata air bag inflator, bringing the count to 20 worldwide.

A faulty Takata air bag inflator has killed another person, this time in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Honda said Tuesday night.

The unidentified person is the 20th death worldwide attributed to the faulty inflators, which can explode with too much force and hurl shrapnel into car and truck cabins.

The person died in a July 10 crash of a 2004 Honda Civic. Officials from the automaker and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration inspected the car Tuesday and confirmed that the driver’s air bag inflator blew apart and caused the death, Honda spokesman Marcos Frommer said.

Recalls for faulty airbags began in 2013, with 3.4 million cars initially affected, and has rapidly expanded.

Over 100 million vehicles were recalled worldwide across over a dozen car manufacturers, including Honda, Toyota and BMW.

A Fair Go investigation on New Zealand television found over 300,000 cars were affected in New Zealand, with many faulty airbags still to be replaced.

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Key Safety acquires Takata

Key Safety Systems Inc. (KSS) has signed the awaited agreement to acquire Takata Corp for $1.6 billion.

Key Safety Systems, based in Detroit, USA won the bid to acquire the embattled Japanese supplier out of bankruptcy, which it filed earlier this year.

Yuxin Tang, President of KSS, said, “The acquisition of Takata fits perfectly with KSS’s century-long commitment to automotive business. The combined company will enhance our ability to serve customers globally and provide superior products and innovation in the rapidly evolving auto safety industry.”

Under the deal, Key Safety’s management vows to maintain Takata’s 45,000 team of employees with the clear exception of the problematic ammonium airbag inflator business, which is expected to end operation after the sale.

Key Safety will finance the deal by utilising existing equity and debt. The deal still requires approval from federal regulators, but once finalised the acquisition will make Key Safety one of the largest players in the safety market.

Key Safety will have more than 60,000 employees in over twenty countries and more than $7 billion in revenue. 


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Honda uses Facebook for Takata investigation

Honda Motor Co Ltd says it will use Facebook Inc’s custom audiences tool to find car owners with defective Takata airbags.


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VW to recall 4.86 million cars in China

Volkswagen AG will recall 4.86 million vehicles due to issues with air bags supplied by bankrupt auto parts maker Takata Corp, China’s quality watchdog has said today.

Reuters reports that Volkswagen and its Chinese joint venture FAW-Volkswagen and SAIC Volkswagen delivered 3.98 million vehicles in China last year.

The recall comes after the watchdog asked the German automaker, General Motors Co (GM.N) and Daimler AG’s Mercedes-Benz earlier this year to recall vehicles equipped with Takata air bags.

Over 20 million cars in China had air bags made by Takata, the watch dog has estimated.

The airbags which have been linked to at least 16 deaths and 180 injuries globally, and have the potential to explode with too much force and spray shrapnel.

China’s General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine said across all of VW’s Chinese operations, it would be required to recall over 5 million vehicles.

The watchdog said the recall would begin in March next year and continue into 2019.

Volkswagen officials did not provide immediate comment when contacted by Reuters.

Of 37 vehicle manufacturers affected by the faulty air bag issue in China, 24 had recalled 10.59 million cars as at the end of June. A further five had made plans to recall 1.26 million vehicles.

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Honda says Takata airbag killed driver

A woman killed in a car crash in Florida last week was most likely the victim of a faulty Takata airbag inflator, Honda has said. If confirmed by authorities, it would be the 19th death worldwide linked to the defective airbags.

Honda said the 34-year-old woman was driving a 2002 Honda Accord. According to Reuters, an official cause of death has not been announced by authorities.

A 2002 Honda Accord

A minor crash can become deadly if a vehicle contains a Takata airbag, as they can explode under excessive force and fire metal shrapnel inside the cabin.

The National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration said vehicles produced between 2001-2003 had a 50 per cent chance rupturing in a crash, and urged the 300,000 drivers currently on US roads to get the airbags replaced.

The 2002 Accord at the centre of last week’s crash was initially recalled in 2011. Honda said it had mailed 21 recall notices, including ten notices to the current owner, but the repairs were never completed.

Last year, investigators found that the ammonium nitrate propellant, which has been identified as the cause of the airbag explosions, was much more likely to combust in hot, humid conditions, particularly over time.

Honda said that older vehicles, particularly those manufactured between 2001 and 2003, are most at risk, and owners should seek a repair as soon as possible. 17 of the total deaths related to Takata airbags have been in Honda vehicles since May 2009.

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Faulty airbag kills Australian man

A 2007 Honda CR-V, similar to the vehicle that crashed in Cabramatta.

A faulty Takata airbag is “likely” to blame for the death of a 58-year-old man in Sydney, NSW Police has said.

The driver of a 2007 Honda CR-V collided with a Toyota Celica at an intersection in the south-western suburb of Cabramatta on July 13. The man died at the scene, while the driver of the Celica and passengers from both cars suffered minor injuries.

The Metropolitan Crash Investigation Unit has determined the likely cause of death was a small piece of shrapnel, which was lodged into the man’s neck after the airbag exploded.

Honda Australia released a statement expressing their sympathy over the weekend, and confirmed the vehicle was part of a global recall due to a faulty Takata airbag.

“We are aware through NSW Police that an accident occurred on July 13, 2017, and resulted in the tragic death of the driver,” said director Stephen Collins.

“Our thoughts and deepest sympathies are with the family of the driver during this difficult time. The vehicle involved, a 2007 Honda CR-V, was the subject of Takata airbag inflator recalls.”

“Honda Australia is working closely with authorities to provide whatever assistance is required.”

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) also announced on Monday morning that it would be investigating the incident, and is seeking more information from government authorities around the information provided to consumers about the recall.

The Sydney Morning Herald’s Drive magazine found over the weekend that over a million drivers in Australia are still waiting to have their airbags replaced. 2.1 million vehicles in total have been recalled across the ditch.

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Honda confirms Takata death

Honda has confirmed an 11th death in the US involving a faulty Takata airbag inflator.

This now means at least 17 deaths and 180 injuries worldwide are now tied to the defect. Vehicles manufactured by Honda have been responsible for all but one of the deaths.

The car maker said the incident occurred in Florida in June 2016, when an individual was repairing a 2001 Honda Accord and the airbag ruptured. The victim died a day after sustaining injuries when the airbag spontaneously deployed.

The Honda Accord was one of over 300,000 vehicles still on US roads that were yet to receive repairs. Honda said the vehicle’s registered owners had received at least 12 recall notices, but never brought the vehicle in for repairs, Reuters reports.

Takata filed for bankruptcy last month, and the chief operating officer of the supplier’s US unit, Scott Caudill, said the company faces “insurmountable claims” relating to the recalls.

Caudill said that Takata has recalled, or expects to recall, 125 million vehicles worldwide by 2019.

In New Zealand, over 110,000 affected vehicles have been identified, which includes both new and used cars. As of March this year, just 22 per cent of owners have been told a replacement is available.

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Takata to file for bankruptcy

A faulty Takata air bag inflator

Japanese air bag maker Takata Corp is preparing to file for bankruptcy as soon as next week, while the company works towards a deal to secure financial backing from American car parts maker Key Safety Systems, Reuters has reported.

The deal with Key Safety has been going on for months, and Reuters claims Key is expected to acquire Takata assets as part of the bankruptcy restructuring.

Nikkei reported a new company created under Key Safety will purchase Takata operations for $2.25 billion and will continue supplying air bags, seat belts and other products to car makers, and leave the legal liabilities behind in a separate entity.

A $1.2 billion settlement between Takata and major global car makers agreed to earlier this year is potentially at stake. The settlement was part of the largest-ever safety recall in automotive history, with 100 million cars affected by the faulty air bag inflators.

The deal between Takata and Key Safety systems may not be reached before the Japanese company files for bankruptcy next week, and major car makers have previously expressed concern that should Takata file for bankruptcy before a deal is in place, it may affect the production of replacement air bag inflators.

A US judge has earlier said the costs of replacing all faulty Takata air bag inflators could exceed $11 billion.

In New Zealand, over 110,000 affected vehicles have been identified, which includes both new and used cars. As of March this year, just 22 per cent of owners have been told a replacement is available.

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Car makers settle Takata lawsuit

Four car makers have agreed to an $800 million settlement to address claims filed in relation to defective Takata airbag inflators, according to court documents filed overnight.

Toyota will cover $403 million of the settlement, followed by BMW at $190 million, Mazda at $110 million and Subaru at $98 million, Reuters reports.

Lawsuits against other leading car makers Honda, Ford and Nissan are yet to be settled.

The four car makers – Toyota, BMW, Mazda and Subaru – said in a joint statement that they settled “given the size, scope and severity of the Takata recall,” but none have admitted fault.

At least 16 deaths and 180 injuries worldwide have been linked to the faulty airbag inflators, which can explode with excessive force and unleash shrapnel inside the cabin of the car. In most instances, the airbags ruptured in humid, high temperatures, and no incidents have been reported in New Zealand.

Reports of the incident led to the largest automotive recall worldwide, affecting 100 million vehicles.

In January, Takata pleaded guilty to criminal charges and paid out a $1.4 billion settlement. Searches for a buyer have stretched on for over a year, and last month, the company reported it was considering bankruptcy.

This latest settlement includes contacting owners who still have the faulty airbags, compensation for economic losses, residual payments, rental cars for some owners, and customer support for repairs.

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