US to fine air bag maker Takata $14,000 per day
RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — The U.S. government says it will fine Japanese air bag maker Takata Corp. $14,000 per day for failing to fully cooperate in a long-running investigation of faulty and potentially dangerous air bag inflators.
The inflators, which are in cars made by 10 auto companies, can explode with too much force, spewing shrapnel into drivers and passengers. At least six people have been killed worldwide due to the problem.
Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx announced the fines on Friday in Richmond, Virginia, on a bus tour to promote a major transportation bill. He says the fines will grow each day that Takata fails to comply with two special orders issued last year by the department's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
"Safety is a shared responsibility, and Takata's failure to fully cooperate with our investigation is unacceptable and will not be tolerated," Foxx said in a statement.
Takata has resisted demands to recall its driver's side air bags nationwide, although automakers have done recalls themselves. The agency also has demanded data from the company, but said in a letter to Takata that it has failed to explain 2.4 million pages of documents that were turned over. Federal law requires Takata to provide a catalog or index with the documents so investigators know what to look for.
"NHTSA has repeatedly engaged Takata and asked for the company's explanation of the content of the deluge of documents that it has produced thus far," the letter to Takata said. "At this point, Takata has still not taken any steps to provide the agency with an explanation of the documents."
The letter, from NHTSA Chief Counsel O. Kevin Vincent, says Takata isn't being forthcoming or being cooperative with NHTSA's probe.
Fines will continue to accrue until Takata "fully and substantively" explains the documents.
The agency threatens in the letter to begin taking depositions of Takata employees in the U.S. and Japan if the company doesn't comply, and it also threatens to refer the case to the Justice Department for further court action.