Honda ordered to give Takata air bag papers to U.S. agency

Wed Nov 5, 2014 8:02pm EST
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By Ben Klayman and Paul Lienert

DETROIT (Reuters) - U.S. safety regulators ordered Japanese automaker Honda Motor Co Ltd (7267.T: Quote) on Wednesday to provide documents and answer questions under oath about potentially defective air bags installed in millions of recalled U.S. vehicles.

The air bags were made by Japanese supplier Takata Corp (7312.T: Quote), which received a similar order last Thursday from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

For the past 18 months, Takata has been besieged by chronic, widespread problems with defective inflators in its air bags, which can explode with excessive force and spray metal shards inside the vehicle. The issues have led to recalls at 10 automakers, but only Honda, Takata's biggest customer, has been sent a special order by the NHTSA.

The U.S. safety agency is seeking all internal Honda communications related to Takata air bag inflators, as well as any field reports, warranty claims and pre-suit legal claims, incidents and lawsuits related to the issue.

The agency also is asking Honda whether it sent any employees to visit Takata plants in the United States or Mexico, starting in 2000.

Honda was ordered to deliver the documents by Dec. 15.

NHTSA Chief Counsel Kevin Vincent issued an earlier special order to Honda on Monday as part of an investigation to determine whether the automaker failed to fully report accident-related deaths and injuries as required by U.S. law. The deadline for information pertaining to that order is Nov. 24.

"Honda has had regular communications with the NHTSA regarding the issues addressed in the special order, and we will continue to cooperate," the company said in an email statement.   Continued...

A pedestrian walks past a logo of Honda Motor Co outside the company's dealership in Tokyo October 28, 2014. REUTERS/Yuya Shino