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Takata Says No to Establishing an Airbag Victim Fund

Motor Trend logo Motor Trend 7/10/2015 Kelly Pleskot

As the recalls pile up, Takata has rejected a U.S. senator's request to set up a fund that would compensate victims killed or injured by faulty airbags.

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“While we do not believe establishing a general compensation fund is warranted at this time, we will continue to assess our position as we focus on how best to address the needs of individuals affected by an inflator rupture,” Takata said in an e-mailed statement in response to Sen. Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut. The lawmaker's request called for a fund similar to the program General Motors provided to victims of its massive ignition switch recalls.

Earlier this year, Takata fessed up to using defective inflators in its airbags. Upon activation, the inflators can explode and send metal shards flying throughout the cabin. The defect has been linked to eight deaths and more than 100 injuries worldwide.

Takata's statement to Senator Blumenthal continued by saying, “We intend to give your suggestion further study, and we will let you know if our thinking on this subject changes. As we review our options, we would be happy to confer with you and your staff to ensure that we take full account of your views and considerations regarding public safety.”

In the meantime, automakers continue issuing more and more recalls. This week, Honda announced a new recall for 4.5 million vehicles in Japan and other markets outside North America to replace Takata airbags. Here in the U.S., the number of Takata airbag recalls has reached nearly 34 million vehicles, making it the largest recall in the nation's history.

U.S. legislators are getting to the bottom of the situation, having held more than four hearings in the past eight months to question Takata about its airbags. Both Takata and automotive regulators are still investigating exactly what makes the airbag inflators prone to breaking apart. A Senate report released before Takata's latest U.S. hearing claims the airbag supplier knew about serious safety issues back in 2001.

Pictured above are airbags from the 2015 Chevrolet Sonic -- they are not subject to the Takata recall.

Source: Automotive News (Subscription required)

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