Airbag maker enters agreement to recall to 34 million cars

Takata Corp. jointly announced the decision with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration on Tuesday. Execs and officials called it a step forward for safety.

In February, a crisis involving potentially dangerous airbags seemingly led to Honda’s CEO stepping down. The company that made the airbags, Takata Corp., had refused demands for a recall.

Tuesday, the airbag maker changed its tune, announcing that it had come to an agreement with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to issue a recall of 34 million cars. That’s about double the number of cars that had been voluntarily recalled by automakers including Toyota, BMW, Fiat Chrysler, Ford, General Motors, Honda, Mazda, Mitsubishi, Nissan and Subaru.

In a press release, ShigehisaTakada, chairman and CEO of Takata, said:

We are pleased to have reached this agreement with NHTSA, which presents a clear path forward to advancing safety and restoring the trust of automakers and the driving public. We have worked extensively with NHTSA and our automaker customers over the past year to collect and analyze a multitude of testing data in an effort to support actions that work for all parties and, most importantly, advance driver safety. We are committed to continuing to work closely with NHTSA and our automaker customers to do everything we can to advance the safety of drivers.

The release states that the company has filed four defect reports with the NHTSA, detailing the various types of airbag inflators it has manufactured. Since February, the administration had been fining Takata $14,000 per day for reportedly resisting questions about airbag defects.

According to Florida Sen. Bill Nelson, the company’s defective airbags could be linked to six deaths and 105 injuries. In November, Hiroshi Shimizu, Takata’s senior vice president for global quality assurance, said in testimony before the Senate Commerce Committee that the company gave “sincerest condolences” to people who have been hurt or killed in accidents, but wasn’t supportive of a nationwide recall.

The NHTSA also issued a release Tuesday, in which U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx is quoted as saying:

Today is a major step forward for public safety. The Department of Transportation is taking the proactive steps necessary to ensure that defective inflators are replaced with safe ones as quickly as possible, and that the highest risks are addressed first. We will not stop our work until every air bag is replaced.

The administration also launched a microsite with information about the recalls.

Do you think Takata’s statement and actions work toward “restoring the trust of automakers and the driving public”?

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