Japanese airbag manufacturer Takata has been hit with a fine of $14,000 per day for failing to cooperate with a government probe into faulty airbags.
The U.S. transportation secretary announced the punishment on Friday, stating that Takata (7312.T) did not comply with two orders issued by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), requiring the company to provide documentation related to the investigation, writes Doina Chiacu of Reuters.
Takata remains uncooperative
“Safety is a shared responsibility and Takata’s failure to fully cooperate with our investigation is unacceptable and will not be tolerated,” said Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “For each day that Takata fails to fully cooperate with our demands, we will hit them with another fine.”
The NHTSA claims that at least 7.8 million cars are considered at risk of having defective Takata airbags. The investigation is trying to find out whether Takata airbag inflators manufactured between 2000 and 2007 were not sealed properly.
If the air bags inflate with too much force they could cause metal shrapnel to fly in the direction of vehicle occupants, a phenomenon which is currently linked to 4 deaths and has led to several lawsuits being filed.
The U.S. government is accusing Takata of flooding the NHTSA with almost 2.5 million pages of documents, without providing any information as to their content. The agency accuses Takata of wasting its time and resources, and accused the company of being uncooperative.
“As you are well aware, NHTSA has repeatedly engaged Takata and asked for the company’s explanation of the content of the deluge of documents that it has produced thus far,” NHTSA wrote to Takata lawyer Steven Bradbury.
Millions of vehicles recalled
Owners of particular models of Toyota, Honda, Mazda, BMW, Nissan, Mitsubishi, Subaru, Chrysler, Ford and General Motors vehicles have been encouraged to replace their airbags.
The defective airbags have caused the recall of over 16 million vehicles worldwide since 2008. The transportation secretary has also urged Congress to pass a law which would require car rental companies and used-car dealers to be responsible for fixing defects in the vehicles that they handle.