U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said the government will fine airbag manufacturer Takata $14,000 per day for failing to cooperate with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s investigation of defective airbags that have led to the death of at least five people in the U.S.
In late 2014, NHTSA, through two special orders, required that Takata provide documentation for the ongoing investigation, a request with which the company has not fully cooperated.
Foxx said the fines, which are the highest allowable by law, will increase each day that the company fails to cooperate with the investigation.
“Safety is a shared responsibility and Takata’s failure to fully cooperate with our investigation is unacceptable and will not be tolerated,” Foxx said in a statement. “For each day that Takata fails to fully cooperate with our demands, we will hit them with another fine.”
“We've pushed hard to get millions of defective Takata airbags off our roads. Those airbags can explode with such force that they have grievously injured people and, in a half-dozen cases, killed them,” said Foxx at Virginia’s Richmond International Airport on the final day of the GROW AMERICA Express – a bus tour to promote a long-term transportation bill.
“To remove that threat and get to the root cause of this defect, we need Takata’s cooperation, and so far they have not demonstrated it.”
Takata has failed to “fully and substantively” provide an explanation of the 2.4 million pages of documents it provided to NHTSA, NHTSA Chief Counsel O. Kevin Vincent said in a letter to the company.
“NHTSA has repeatedly engaged Takata and asked for the company’s explanation of the content of the deluge of documents it has produced thus far,” the letter said. “At this point, Takata has still not taken any steps to provide the agency with an explanation of the documents it produced.”
Until Takata complies, fees will continue to accrue and NHTSA will begin obtaining depositions of Takata employees in the U.S. and Japan. NHTSA may also refer the case to the U.S. Department of Justice.