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Senators Call for Takata to be Held Accountable in Massive Air Bag Recall

Nov 12, 2015

U.S. senators Richard Blumenthal and Edward Markey, worried about Takata Corporation's ability to complete its recall of defective air bag inflators, has asked the National Highway Traffic Administration (NHTSA) for guidance on how to hold the company accountable if its U.S. subsidiary goes bankrupt.

In a letter to NHTSA made public on Monday, Blumenthal and Markey wrote, "We have concerns about Takata's financial solvency, which is now at risk … and that as a result, consumers could be left with defective airbags that no one will be forced to fix," Reuters reports.

Takata must pay the government a $70 million cash penalty and could be fined up to $130 million if it fails to meet the recall schedule. A dozen automakers, including Honda, Toyota, and Nissan, have dropped Takata's air bag inflators, according to Reuters. A list of affected vehicles can be found on the NHTSA web site. Vehicle owners can use their car's Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) to determine if their particular vehicle is included in the recall.

The senators expressed the concern that the loss of business combined with the liabilities could "overwhelm the company and lead Takata Corporation to bankrupt its U.S. subsidiary," the senators wrote to NHTSA Administrator Mark Rosekind. Blumenthal and Markey asked Rosekind how the U.S. government can assure that replacement air bag inflators will be available for affected U.S. car owners and how costs of the recall and further penalties would be handled in the event of a bankruptcy. NHTSA officials had no immediate comment, Reuters reports.

Last week, NHTSA announced the hefty fines for Takata, as well as accelerated schedule for eliminating the Takata air bag inflators that have been linked to at least eight deaths and numerous injuries. The defective deflators can cause the air bags to deploy explosively, sending shrapnel into the car's passenger compartment. Regulators have ordered the company to phase out the use of ammonium nitrate propellant, Reuters reports. The air bag recall is one of the biggest automotive recalls in U.S. history.

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