Takata airbag recall

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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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Australian Takata airbag victim

Another victim was almost killed by a faulty Takata airbag which had been installed in her Toyota RAV4 SUV.

The 21-year-old woman is the first Australian victim and was struck in the head by metal shrapnel during a low-speed crash on Monday last week. A representative from the police says another car turned into the female driver’s path on a suburban street, and the woman was not at fault.

The airbag was one of about 100 million which are still waiting to be recalled. Takata airbags have already taken 16 lives and many more injuries worldwide.

More than 26,000, or 22 per cent of New Zealand owners affected by the Takata airbag recall, have been told their replacement airbag is available.

Replacing the faulty inflator will take between two-and-a-half to five hours to install, and is free of charge.

Investigations by Toyota into how many second-hand imported vehicles were affected by this latest recall are ongoing.

Toyota will contact affected owners once they are identified. Concerned owners can fill out a recall form on the Toyota website for further information.

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Toyota NZ recalls 5803 cars over Takata airbags

Toyota New Zealand have announced a recall of nearly 6000 New Zealand-new vehicles which contain faulty airbags made by Takata.

The Takata recall has affected over 19 car markers and 100 million vehicles worldwide, with faulty installations stretching back over a decade.

A further imported 4313 Corolla and 1490 Yaris vehicles manufactured in 2009 have been included in the global recall, with Toyota citing concerns with the passenger side airbag inflator.

This brings the total number of New Zealand vehicles affected, including New Zealand-new and used cars, to 113,804.  

More than 26,000, or 22 per cent of New Zealand owners affected by the Takata airbag recall, have been told their replacement airbag is available.

Replacing the faulty inflator will take between two-and-a-half to five hours to install, and is free of charge.

Investigations by Toyota into how many second-hand imported vehicles were affected by this latest recall are ongoing.

Toyota will contact affected owners once they are identified. Concerned owners can fill out a recall form on the Toyota website for further information. 

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Takata pleads guilty to US felony charge

Japanese car-parts manufacturer Takata pleaded guilty to a felony charge on Tuesday in a US federal court as part of a $1.4 billion settlement.

The settlement includes penalties and compensation to both car makers and victims of the faulty inflators. The company’s chief financial officer, Yoichiro Nomura, entered the plea on behalf of the company.

Lawyers representing the victims objected to the ruling. Worldwide, 16 deaths and over 180 injuries have been linked to Takata’s defective airbags.

US district court judge George Steeh approved the settlement, saying car makers were potential victims of Takata’s 15-year efforts to hide evidence of its defective inflators. Takata is still subject to civil litigation from individual lawsuits.

The settlement is expected to rejuvenate stagnated talks to find a buyer for Takata, which have been ongoing for a year.

“Achieving a plea bargain in the United States shows some progress,” SBI Securities senior analyst Koji Endo told Reuters.

Steeh told the court he considered harsher penalties but approved the settlement, as higher fines could push Takata into bankruptcy and further delay efforts to replace faulty inflators still on the roads.  

“Destruction of the corporation would probably have been a fair outcome in this case,” he said.

Lawyers for vehicle owners have sued various car makers, including Honda, Nissan, BMW, Ford, Mazda and Toyota, alleging the manufacturers used the inflators despite knowing they were faulty.

Takata agreed to establish two restitution funds in January – $1.19 billion to compensate car makers for the extensive recalls, and $173 million for injured drivers.

Recalls are expected to continue until 2020.

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More Honda recalls announced

Honda New Zealand and Honda Australia have both announced a recall of certain models affected by the faulty Takata airbags. This follows a recall of over 100 million cars worldwide after 16 deaths and 180 injuries.

Honda New Zealand has advised on its website that New Zealand-new Honda Civic, Jazz, Accord Euro, CR-V, Insight, and City may contain faulty driver or front seat passenger airbags, and a “limited number” will have the airbags recalled. Honda Australia submitted a recall notice to Product Safety Australia on January 23, specifying that Euro, City, Jazz and Insight models manufactured in 2012 contained affected vehicles.

Honda national service manager Bryan Davis said, “The driver and front-seat passenger-airbag inflators of all affected vehicles will be replaced with a new part as a precautionary measure. Honda New Zealand has not received any reports of incidents in New Zealand where airbags in vehicles affected by the recall might have deployed abnormally.” Car owners, who have been identified through registration data, will be contacted directly by Honda New Zealand.

Honda New Zealand is also investigating second-hand, Japanese-used imported Honda vehicles that might also be affected by the airbag recall. The owners of these cars will also be contacted by Honda. Those who wish to know if their car is affected can check via their VIN or registration here.


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German minister urges Fiat recall

Germany’s transport minister Alexander Dobrindt has said he wants to pull Fiat models that breach emissions regulations from the market, according to German newspaper Bild am Sonntag. “The Italian authorities have known for several months that Fiat, in the opinion of our experts, uses illegal shut-off devices,” he claimed. The European Commission has expressed concern that the Fiat 500X hatchback in particular has been fitted with software that throttles the emissions treatment system during regulation testing to pass the current threshold.

This comes just days after the US Justice Department announced an investigation into Fiat Chrysler, the American arm of the company. New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, said in a statement, that he is “deeply troubled” by the EPA findings and will work with state and federal agencies to investigate claims against Fiat Chrysler. Fiat Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne has condemned all allegations as “absolute nonsense” in a press conference, and said his company never attempted to cheat emissions rules by detecting when the vehicle was in test mode.

Both branches of investigation have hit the Fiat Chrysler hard in the markets. US-listed shares dropped 10 per cent at the news and Milan-listed shares 16 per cent, making only modest gains on Monday. If either the European Commission or the US Justice Department prove that emissions rules were violated, Fiat Chrysler could face fines of $(USD)44,539 per vehicle.

There are no plans to halt Fiat sales in the US. Both the petrol and diesel 500X models are not available in New Zealand, but Fiat is still taking expressions of interest from prospective buyers on their local website.

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