U.S. fines Takata, bans volatile chemical in its air bags

Tue Nov 3, 2015 6:18pm EST
 
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By David Morgan and Bernie Woodall

WASHINGTON/DETROIT (Reuters) - The top U.S. auto safety regulator on Tuesday imposed a relatively modest $70-million fine on air-bag supplier Takata Corp (7312.T: Quote) and ordered it to stop making inflators that use ammonium nitrate.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration cited the chemical as a factor in explosive air-bag ruptures that caused seven deaths and nearly 100 injuries in the United States.

NHTSA said millions of cars equipped with potentially defective Takata air bags may not be repaired until the end of 2019 because not enough replacement parts are available.

In an unusual move, Honda Motor Co (7267.T: Quote) said it was "deeply troubled" by evidence suggesting Takata "misrepresented and manipulated test data for certain air bag inflators." Honda was Takata's largest air-bag customer.

NHTSA, which is part of the U.S. Department of Transportation, accused Takata of providing "selective, incomplete or inaccurate data" from 2009 to the present.

Takata said it was committed to phasing out the use of ammonium nitrate in its inflators by the end of 2018. Its American depositary receipts closed down more than 4 percent.

In a briefing, U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said NHTSA had "taken Takata from being in a kicking-and-screaming mode to being part of the solution."   Continued...

 
Visitors look at cars behind a logo of Takata Corp on its display at a showroom for vehicles in Tokyo, Japan, June 25, 2015. REUTERS/Yuya Shino