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NHTSA to Fine Takata $14,000 a Day for "Not Fully Cooperating"

Motor Trend logo Motor Trend 2/20/2015 Alex Nishimoto

The NHTSA has announced that it will fine Japanese supplier Takata $14,000 per day for every day it fails to "fully cooperate" with the agency's investigation into the company's defective airbags. The fine is double the amount levied on GM last year for every day it was late filing its response to the NHTSA's questions regarding its faulty ignition switches.

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"Safety is a shared responsibility and Takata’s failure to fully cooperate with our investigation is unacceptable and will not be tolerated," said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx in a statement. "For each day that Takata fails to fully cooperate with our demands, we will hit them with another fine. But, it’s not enough. I am asking Congress to pass the GROW AMERICA Act which would provide the tools and resources needed to change the culture of safety for bad actors like Takata."

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Those tools include a proposed increase to the maximum late recall fine of $35 million to $300 million. GM was fined $35 million for its ignition switch recall fiasco last year. The $14,000-per-day fine comes after the NHTSA last year issued two Special Orders requiring Takata to provide documentation and other materials related to the investigation into the faulty airbag inflators that have been linked to at least six deaths. The agency says Takata has not fully cooperated.

Automotive News says that Takata has supplied more than 2.4 million pages of documents in response to the Special Order, which is essentially the same as a subpoena. However, it has failed to include descriptions that explain the contents of the documents, as NHTSA has requested.

Takata issued a response to NHTSA's statement, where the company said it was "surprised and disappointed" by the agency's letter and press release, and that it strongly disagrees with the claim that it has not been fully cooperative. The statement goes on to say that Takata has been in regular communication with NHTSA and has been working with automakers and its own engineers to identify the cause of the problem.

Takata will be fined $14,000 every day until it satisfies the NHTSA's requests. If the company doesn't comply "in short order," NHTSA warns that it will refer the matter to the Department of Justice, and also begin deposing Takata employees in the U.S. and Japan.

Source: NHTSA, Takata, Automotive News (Subscription required)

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