Who Are the Victims of Takata’s Fraud?

For more than a decade, airbag supplier Takata manufactured what turned out to be ticking time bombs – airbag inflators with a volatile propellant called Phased-Stabilized Ammonium Nitrate (PSAN) – that were placed in vehicles worldwide by the hundreds of millions.

Preventable Ford Airbag Death Touches off Latest Recalls

Another day, another episode of the long-running soap opera, All My Airbags. Last week, on the heels of the tenth death and the eve of an historic blizzard, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration announced that another five million vehicles with defective Takata airbag inflators will be recalled. This recall will include driver’s side SDI-type airbag inflators in Ford vehicles.

Takata Recall Tests the New and Improved NHTSA

Tomorrow October 22, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is scheduled to hold a public hearing ostensibly to explore coordinating a national recall of defective Takata airbag inflators. 

Takata, Take Two

The big take-aways from the second round of Congressional hearings on Takata airbag inflator ruptures and recalls were:

What Do the Takata Recalls Really Mean?

Today, the Department of Transportation announced that it will organize the multi-manufacturer recall of 34 million airbag inflators announced by supplier Takata earlier this week. Just three days earlier, the agency took a victory lap, after finally forcing Takata to launch national – not regional – recalls and to work more closely – under the terms of a consent order and the threat of civil fines – with NHTSA to ferret out the root causes.

Honda May Set the Record for the Longest Running Rolling Recall

Seven years after Honda issued the first Takata airbag recall, it continues to add more vehicles to the tally. Its never-ending rolling recall – a scheme automakers use to quietly keep adding more makes and models as deaths and injuries keep occurring – has gone from 3,940 model year 2001 Accords and Civics to up to at least 8 million vehicles, spanning a giant chunk of its fleet. And that number is soft because it is impossible to break down Honda’s web of overlapping recalls, varying explanations, and numerous recall extensions to determine an actual number.

Taking on Takata

Lately, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has come in like a wrecking ball, knocking aside manufacturers’ excuses for delaying recalls and other sundry sins with multi-million dollar fines – and now aggressive legal action.

Improving the Recall System for the 21st Century

Well, here we are again. Another vehicle defect crisis, another round of Congressional hearings, this time only months after the GM and NHTSA were taken to task for allowing the ignition switch defect to spiral out of control.  This time the Senate delves into the Takata airbag inflator defect, another agency-assisted hazard that has been festering for more than a decade. Today’s Roman circus is entitled “Examining Takata Airbag Defects and the Vehicle Recall Process.” 

NHTSA Finally Gets Curious about Exploding Airbags

NHTSA-watchers know that it sometimes takes a lot to pique the curiosity of the Office of Defects Investigations.

Take Takata airbags that explode, shooting shrapnel at hapless drivers. This defect, first surfaced in 2008, when Honda announced a major recall. It has returned to the news pages in 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2013 as Honda and four other automakers announced a cascade of recalls, each with its own specific defect root cause – one just a little different from the other. These explosions have caused two deaths and at least 22 injuries to date.

Melton Family Charges GM with Fraud; Asks for Sanctions

The parents of Brooke Melton, who died in March 2010 crash caused by a well-known ignition switch defect, returned to a Georgia state court, charging General Motors with fraudulent concealment and perjury in the civil liability case that was settled in September. And, just for good measure, they’ve filed a sanctions motion, via their attorneys Lance Cooper and Jere Beasley for discovery abuse and spoliation of evidence.

The Melton case has unleashed a world of hurt on General Motors – an investigation by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Congressional oversight, class action lawsuits and general opprobrium. The company knew for nearly a decade that a loose ignition switch in six models – including the 2005-2007 Cobalt – could move from the “Run” to “Accessory” or “Off” position, turning off the power steering, anti-lock brakes and disabling the airbags, before recalling 1.6 million vehicles in North America. At least 13 deaths have been linked to the defect. The decade-long narrative of what GM knew, when it knew it, how it responded to the problem – or not – included the revelation that one of the obstacles to pinpointing the defect was a design change to the ignition switch that GM originally blamed on the supplier, but no change in the part number – a huge No-No.

In the face of a document showing that the Cobalt's lead design engineer Ray DeGiorgio signed off on the new ignition switch without assigning a new part number, GM has since admitted that he may have lied under oath.

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