Since the issues with the Takata air bags began, Honda has been the automaker most affected. Honda started recalling vehicles in 2008 because of air bag ruptures, and it has continued to recall more than any other automaker. Recently, Honda also started working with other air bag suppliers in an attempt to meet demand for replacement parts.
Now, according to a recent article in the New York Times, Honda has dropped Takata as its air bag supplier.
Honda Cuts Ties with Takata
The announcement from Honda corresponded to the announcement from the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA) that they were fining Takata $70 million for its mishandling of the air bag defects. This is the largest civil penalty imposed by the NHTSA.
That same day, Honda announced that it will no longer be using inflators made by Takata. This is likely to be a large blow to Takata, as Honda was their largest air bag customer, making up about 10 percent of their worldwide sales and about 38 percent of their revenue. According to an article in Reuters, Honda stated that it was “deeply troubled” by evidence showing that Takata “misrepresented and manipulated test data for certain air bag inflators.”
Might Honda consider legal action against Takata? It’s unclear at this time. So far, management has stated only that they will “discuss issues of responsibility” with the air bag company once they find out for sure what has been causing some air bags to explode upon deployment.
So far, Takata air bag ruptures have been linked with eight deaths and over 100 injuries.
Takata Shares Take a Hit following NHTSA Fine
According to Financial Times, Honda’s decision to step away from Takata has already hurt the company. Shares in Takata dropped as much as 20 percent after the announcement and after the NHTSA revealed the $70 million fine.
Takata issued a statement in a press conference immediately following the NHTSA and Honda announcement denying that they had manipulated any test data, but admitting that they had provided inaccurate reports and had failed to reveal some test data.
At the heart of the issue is the propellant Takata has been using in its inflators since 2001, called “ammonium nitrate.” A number of experts have expressed concern about the chemical because of its inherent instability, particularly in high temperatures and high humidities.
As part of their agreement with the Department of Transportation, Takata is phasing out their use of this chemical. The NHTA stated in the agreement that if Takata can prove that its safe, the phase-out may not be necessary, but the chief executive of the company has since stated that they will stop using the chemical.
Honda Long Beleaguered by Takata Air Bag Problems
Honda has had a long history with Takata, and has been wrapped up in the problems with the air bags since those problems started. The first Takata air bag explosion occurred in a 2001 Honda Civic in 2007, and three more occurred between 2007 and 2008—all in Honda vehicles.
Honda recalled about 4,000 of its products for air bag repairs in 2008, which turned out to be just the beginning. Now, more than 30 million vehicles have been recalled to replace potentially faulty air bag inflators.
Exclusively focused on representing plaintiffs, especially in mass tort litigation, Eric Chaffin prides himself on providing unsurpassed professional legal services in pursuit of the specific goals of his clients and their families. Both his work and his cases have been featured in the national press, including on ABC’s Good Morning America.