Takata faces $200 million civil fine for air bag defects

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) issued penalties for defects in Takata air bag inflators on Tuesday.

The penalties include a $200 million civil fine on the company. The NHTSA also ordered Takata to speed the recall of the air bags in U.S. vehicles and replace them with safer ones.

The recalls make the Takata issues a top priority, as they are the greatest risk to safety. This action effectively sets deadlines for potential recalls for other Takata inflators in the future. Inflators must be replaced unless Takata can prove they safely use a propellant that is suspect.

These are the largest civil penalty orders that have ever been issued by the NHSTA. This is also the first time that the NHTSA has used its authority to further speed recall repairs, which affect millions of drivers and vehicles throughout the U.S.

“Today, we are holding Takata responsible for its failures, and we are taking strong action to protect the traveling public,” NHTSA Administrator Mark Rosekind said. “We are accelerating Takata recalls to get safe air bags into American vehicles more quickly, ensuring that consumers at the greatest risk are protected, and addressing the long-term risk of Takata's use of a suspect propellant.” 

The inflators use a phase-stabilized ammonium nitrate propellant that is believed to be a factor in explosive ruptures that have caused seven deaths and nearly 100 injuries in the U.S. 

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