Friday, July 20, 2018
Business

Honda denies covering up dangers of Takata air bags

With just a third of the defective Takata air bag inflators replaced nationwide, the corporate blame game of who will take responsibility — and pay — for the issue has shifted into another gear.

Honda is going public as it tries to debunk claims by lawyers that it knew about the dangers of Takata inflators nearly two decades ago, but covered it up.

The escalation of Honda's fight comes just three days before Takata Corp. is expected to seek bankruptcy protection in Japan and the United States. The company's inflators can explode with too much force, blowing apart a metal canister and hurling shrapnel into drivers and passengers.

The problem has killed at least 16 people worldwide and injured 180. It touched off the largest automotive recall in U.S. history.

Honda also wants depositions from Takata employees to be included in trials. It says the testimony shows that the auto maker was a victim of fraud committed by Takata.

As of June 1, just one third of the 2.3 million Florida vehicles affected had replaced the defective airbags. Another 1.5 million of the possibly deadly airbags remain.

PREVIOUS COVERAGE: Bill Nelson alarmed at slow pace of Takata airbag replacement in Florida

"We've got to pick up the pace on boosting production of replacement inflators and assisting consumers who need to get their vehicles fixed," Sen. Bill Nelson said earlier this month.

He blamed the empty leadership post at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, vacant since President Trump took office, for the slow pace of Takata repairs.

"At the rate we're going, we might land humans on Mars before all of these deadly inflators are off the road," Nelson said at the time.

Nationally, 30.4 million of the 46.2 million affected airbags have not been replaced. Nineteen automakers were affected by the defective airbags. To see if your car needs to be taken in for related repairs, visit https://tinyurl.com/l4fl4dh.

Times wires were used in this report. Contact Malena Carollo at [email protected] or (727) 892-2249. Follow @malenacarollo on Twitter.

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