The United States National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has asked Honda Motor Co. to provide documents and answer questions under oath linked to the agency’s current investigation of potentially faulty Takata Corp. air bags fitted in millions of recalled vehicles. NHTSA wants to see all internal communications at Honda related to Takata airbag inflators.
All documents like field reports, warranty claims and pre-suit legal claims, incidents and lawsuits related to the issue are also being sought. NHTSA has also asked the carmaker whether it sent any employees to visit Takata sites in the US or Mexico starting in 2000. Honda has until December 15 to deliver the requested documents.
The agency’s chief counsel, Kevin Vincent, earlier issued a special order to Honda as part of a probe on whether the carmaker failed to fully report accident-related deaths and injuries as required by US. Both Takata and Honda have expressed willingness to cooperate with the government investigation.
In a span almost seven years, 10 major carmakers using Takata airbags have recalled over 11 million cars in the United States and over 17 million globally – all to replace inflators tied to at least four deaths and several serious injuries.
All the deaths happened with vehicles made by Honda, which has also called back almost 7.6 million cars in the US since 2008 and over 9.5 million cars globally.
Clarence Ditlow, executive director of the Center for Auto Safety, told Reuters in an e-mail that the regulator’s order was a must due to Honda’s prime involvement – it had the first known inflator explosion in 2004 and it is being linked to all four known deaths.