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Takata settles air-bag claims

Takata Corp has reached a settlement with two groups representing victims of its faulty air bags, paving the way for the company to exit Chapter 11 bankruptcy and move forward with a reorganisation plan, according to court documents.

Two committees for people suing over the air bags have agreed to support a bankruptcy-exit plan that would resolve lawsuits by channeling them into a trust funded in part by the sale of Takata assets.

Takata was forced into bankruptcy amid lawsuits, multimillion-dollar fines and crushing recall costs involving the air bags. 

Takata has recalled millions of air bags that had been linked to deaths in the U.S. Defective air bags can explode in car crashes, sending metal shards flying. At least 16 people have died and more than 180 have been injured due to the problem, which has touched off the largest series of automotive recalls in U.S. history.

More than 100 million inflators have been recalled worldwide.

The Japan-based company entered a guilty plea last year as part of a $1 billion settlement with the U.S. Justice Department over the air-bag problems.

Thirteen automakers have joined the agreement, including General Motors and Ford Motor Co. and Toyota Motor Corp. The manufacturers, which are both Takata’s largest customers and biggest creditors, are indemnified in their agreements with Takata from losses and liabilities related to the air bag inflators.
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Toyota SA recalls 700,000 cars

Toyota South Africa said on Thursday that it is recalling more than 730,000 vehicles in South Africa amid fears over a fault with the cars’ airbags.

Some of the affected models date back more than 15 years. The recall is to replace the front airbag inflators produced by parts firm Takata.

Takata discovered the problem last year and is in the process of replacing the airbags in millions of models worldwide from a large range of manufacturers, including Toyota, General Motors and BMW.

The airbags themselves can shower drivers and passengers with metal shards when they explode in a crash and they’ve been linked to 13 deaths in the United States alone.

“Depending on the circumstances‚ this could create excessive internal pressure when the airbag is deployed and cause the inflator to rupture. In the event of an inflator rupture‚ metal fragment could pass through the airbag cushion material‚ striking and possibly injuring the occupants in the event of an accident‚” Toyota South Africa said in a statement on their website.

The company said no-one has been injured or killed in South Africa as a result of this fault.

The current Toyota recall affects 10 models, including Lexus.

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New Takata death

Ford Motor Co has just announced that it has confirmed a second death in an older pickup truck caused by a defective airbag inflator of Takata Corp and has urged 2,900 owners in North America to stop driving immediately until they can get replacement parts.

Ford recently confirmed in late December that a July 2017 crash death in West Virginia in a 2006 Ford Ranger was caused by a defective Takata inflator.

It previously reported a similar death in South Carolina that occurred in December 2015.

Ford said both Takata deaths occurred with inflators built on the same day installed in 2006 Ranger pickups. At least 21 deaths worldwide are linked to the Takata inflators that can rupture and send deadly metal fragments into the driver’s body. The faulty inflators have led to the largest automotive recall in history. The other 19 deaths have occurred in Honda Motor Co vehicles, most of which were in the United States.

The new recall announced on Thursday affects 2,900 vehicles. These include 2,700 in the United States and nearly 200 in Canada. The new recall will allow for identification of the 2,900 owners in the highest risk pool.

Japanese auto supplier Takata plans to sell its viable operations to Key Safety Systems, an affiliate of China’s Ningo Joyson Electric Corp, for $1.6 billion.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration urged owners to heed Ford’s warning. “It is extremely important that all high-risk air bags are tracked down and replaced immediately,” NHTSA spokeswoman Karen Aldana said.

Takata inflators can explode with excessive force, unleashing metal shrapnel inside cars and trucks and have injured more than 200. The defect led Takata to file for bankruptcy protection in June.

 

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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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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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Takata requests lawsuits are dropped

Bankrupt air-bag provider, Takata has requested that all lawsuits against automakers be dropped by injured people.

The company asked a federal judge to suspend the lawsuits saying that litigation would distract management from completing the sale of the company’s operations. The company is attempting to sell its viable operations to Key Safety Systems for $1.6 billion.

The request did not go down well with the lawyers representing the complainants, saying that it could delay lawsuits for six months or more.

According to news site, Reuters, the official bankruptcy committee that represents injured drivers said in court papers the injunction would have “human consequences” and prevent people from pursuing compensation.

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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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Mazda recalls 680,642 cars in China

China’s FAW Car Co Ltd, a partner of Mazda Motor Corp, from Japan, will recall 680,642 Mazda cars due to faulty air bags supplied by Takata.

The recall includes domestic Mazda 6 vehicles manufactured between September 2008 and January 2016 in China, the country’s General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine (GAQSIQ) said in a statement on Friday.

The issue was found in the front passenger airbag, which the GAQSIQ called a “safety risk.”

The Chinese safety watchdog also requested on Friday that car makers General Motors, Mercedes-Benz and Volkswagen fulfil their recall obligations in China and replace cars affected by faulty Takata airbags.

The airbags have been linked to at least 16 deaths and 180 injuries worldwide, with over 100 million vehicles recalled.

Takata filed for bankruptcy in June, and was purchased by US-based Key Safety Systems for $2.2 billion. Takata’s legal liabilities, which include a $1.2 billion settlement with major global car makers, will be left behind in a separate company.

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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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