Takata Corp. is facing a $14,000-a-day fine from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration for its failure to "fully cooperate" with the agency’s probe into its exploding airbag inflators linked to at least six deaths. Takata will have to pay $14,000 fine every day until it addresses its shortcomings in the probe.
The NHTSA has warned Takata that it will refer the situation to the Department of Justice if the Japanese supplier fails to take action, according to U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. The fines refers from the NHTSA’s “special orders” issued in 2014 asking Takata to produce documents and answer questions under oath over its airbags -- to help NHTSA’s probe into the defect.
According to a letter to Takata attorneys sent by NHTSA chief counsel Kevin Vincent, the company has supplied more than 2.4 million pages of documents in response to the special orders, which are considered subpoenas. The document production orders also require the supplier to include descriptions to explain the content of submitted documents, but Takata has failed to do so.
He said that issue as well as Takata’s recent on a separate matter related to the NHTSA’s ongoing produce, have the agency to conclude that Takata is neither “being forthcoming” with the information it should supply, nor is it being cooperative in supporting the investigation, Vincent said in the letter.
He warned that the agency plans to depose Takata employees in the United States and in Japan if the situation isn't remedied “in short order.”
In a statement, Takata said it was “surprised and disappointed” by NHTSA’s penalty announcement, saying that it has been meeting regularly with the agency’s engineers to identify the root cause of the defects and has even maintained regular communication with the NHTSA about its document production.
Takata said that its extensive testing efforts has so far supported its initial view that age and sustained exposure to heat and humidity is a common factor in the malfunctioning airbag inflators. Takata added that it is working to accelerate replacement recalls in those geographic areas identified as being most at risk.