The US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says that Takata has agreed to accept penalties for failures involving exploding airbags that have killed at least eight people and injured at least 98.
The NHTSA is fining Takata at least $70m and possibly up to $200m depending on Takata's compliance with a plan to accelerate recalls of defective airbags and eliminate a chemical that may have caused the incidents. It's the largest civil penalty in the agency's history.
The supplier acknowledged "that it was aware of a defect but failed to issue a timely recall", NHTSA said.
Some 19m vehicles in the US are fitted with potentially defective airbags and the NHTSA will appoint a monitor to oversee Takata's airbag recall which must be completed about two years earlier than previously planned.
"For years, Takata has built and sold defective products, refused to acknowledge the defect, and failed to provide full information to NHTSA, its customers, or the public,” said Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “The result of that delay and denial has harmed scores of consumers and caused the largest, most complex safety recall in history. Today’s actions represent aggressive use of NHTSA’s authority to clean up these problems and protect public safety.”
As part of the consent agreement, Takata must phase out the use of ammonium nitrate propellant unless it can prove that it's not related to the exploding airbags.
NHTSA also left open the possibility that they will require Takata to recall all airbags it has ever produced with ammonium nitrate.