The NHTSA took a newly aggressive tone on the issue in giving the automaker three weeks to answer a series of detailed questions relating to information reported over the course of more than 10 years.
The 34 questions must be answered under oath, and NHTSA Deputy Administrator David Friedman said that “Honda Motor Co Ltd (ADR) (NYSE:HMC) (TYO:7267) and the other automakers are legally obligated to report this information to us and failure to do so will not be tolerated.”
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Under existing laws automakers must submit Early Warning Reporting data every three months, relating to every incident which led to death or injury involving one of their vehicles, which may have been caused by a defect.
The NHTSA stated that it is paying particular attention to air bag malfunctions, related to the ongoing recall of millions of vehicles across the U.S. and the world.
“NHTSA has received information indicating that [Honda] failed to report incidents involving Takata Corporation (TYO:7312) (OTCMKTS:TKTDY) air bags,” the agency said.
Honda is also coming under further scrutiny for failing to report incidents which are not related to air bags. The company responded that a third-party would be undertaking an audit of reporting data and that the findings will be submitted to the NHTSA soon.
Honda’s Nakata in crisis
Back in June, federal regulators asked automakers to assist in identifying defective Takata Corp air bags. Takata is Honda’s largest air bag supplier, and the automaker also holds a 1.2% stake in its supplier.
There have been four deaths and numerous serious injuries in incidents linked to the defective safety devices. One death was even investigated as a homicide because of the nature of the wounds discovered on the neck of the deceased.
The air bags and inflators present a risk of exploding with excessive force and spraying shrapnel into the vehicle. The defect has led to the recall of more than 10 million cars in the U.S since 2008.