Battle Between the National Highway Traffic & Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Japanese Takata Corporation Has Ramifica

Will the Takata airbag recall go national?

In the wake of dozens of injuries and five (perhaps more) deaths caused by defective Takata airbags, National Highway Traffic & Safety Administration (NHTSA) recent sought to extend the airbag recall to the entire United States. This act would lead to the recall of 8 million vehicles in addition to the 14 million vehicles worldwide that have already been affected.

Surprisingly, the Takata company rebuffed the NHSTA’s demand to widen the recall’s scope.

David Friedman, the NHTSA’s Deputy Administrator, responded by saying: “NHTSA received Takata’s disappointing response for demand for recall of certain driver’s side airbags… Takata shares responsibility for keeping drivers safe, and we believe anything short of a national recall does not live up to that responsibility.”

The Japanese company insists that its airbag products are safe in low humidity conditions and worries that extending the recall could exacerbate an existing parts shortage, forcing suppliers to divert replacement airbags away from high humidity states, where they are most needed.

The Center for Auto Safety’s Clarence Ditlow, however, does not believe that Takata can afford to put up much of a fight. Ditlow says: “if Takata continues to stonewall on this recall, NHTSA is going to take them to court, and their customers are going to leave them in droves… I don’t see a winning scenario in this for Takata to fight a national recall.”

Investors have already damaged the company by knocking down its stock by over 50% (against a gain of nearly 10% on the Topix Index).

NHTSA has also been bruised by this crisis. In November, the agency sent out conflicting and (in some cases) outright wrong information about problem cars and also sent concerned consumers to a website that didn’t work.

If you have been confused or concerned about this airbag issue, and you suspect that a defective auto part might have played a role in a recent accident or injury, please get in touch with the Washington D.C. auto accident lawyers here at Regan, Zambri & Long to set up a thorough and confidential consultation about your case.

We wrote this post a few months ago. Looks pretty prescient now… Could the Already Enormous Takata Airbag Recall Get Worse?