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Takata airbag recall


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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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Takata pleads guilty, reaches US settlement

The US Justice Department announced on January 13 that safety-equipment supplier Takata will plead guilty to criminal misconduct and pay $1.4 billion in penalties. Takata’s defective airbags were linked to at least 16 deaths and over 180 injuries worldwide. The Wall Street Journal reported that Takata is expected to agree to come up with the settlement either within a year or when it secures a financial backer.

Three executives, Shinichi Tanaka, Hideo Nakajima and Tsuneo Chikaraishi, have also been charged with fabricating test data to hide a fatal airbag defect, according to Reuters. It was revealed that the Takata executives knew as early as 2000 that the airbag inflators were explosive under certain conditions. “For more than a decade, Takata repeatedly and systematically falsified critical test data related to the safety of its products, putting profits and production schedules ahead of safety,” said Andrew Weissmann, head of the Justice Department’s fraud section.

Shares in Takata rose 17 per cent (once news of the settlement had become public), closing on Friday at 707 yen, or $(US)6.12. Reuters reported in November that Takata was considering a bankruptcy filing for its US unit while looking for a sponsor to cover liabilities for the faulty airbags. Several companies have expressed interest, according to the Nikkei Review, although an announcement has yet to be made. Recall liabilities are expected to top $14 billion.

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 found over 300,000 cars were affected in New Zealand, with many faulty airbags still to be replaced.

 

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Takata stock slumps

Takata stock slumped by as much as 8.8 per cent after a Japanese day trader told his 103,000 Twitter followers that he had sold his shares.

The slump was the biggest intraday decline since November 9 and finished the day down 7.5 percent in Tokyo.

The trader, known as CIS, sold all the Takata shares he’d purchased three weeks ago and estimated that his Takata trade, involving about 800,000 shares, had netted a pretax gain of about $1.2 million.

According to automotivenews.com, Takata had climbed to the highest since January 29 at Tuesday’s close of business.

CIS began his Takata trade when the shares rose, after reports that it’s US subsidiary was planning to file for bankruptcy. “The stock rose even after a piece of really bad news came out,” he told Automotive News. “For me that’s a sign of strong demand.”

he said that he sold the shares because they had stopped rising once a potential sale to Autoliv or Key Safety was beginning to progress.

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Airbag list update

The NZ Transport Agency (NZTA) has announced a reduced list of vehicles requiring visual verification that the passenger airbag is connected.

(more…)

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Texan sues Honda, Takata over airbag

A Texas woman is suing American Honda and the US subsidiary of Takata, claiming she was badly injured when the airbag in her car exploded in a low-speed accident. (more…)

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Dealer sues competitor for Takata sales

A US dealer is suing his competitor for selling used vehicles which require their airbags to be replaced as part of the Takata safety recall.  (more…)

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