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Four Automakers Facing Legal Action Over Takata Airbags

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New class-action suits filed in the U.S. this week allege that General Motors, FCA (Fiat Chrysler Automobiles), Mercedes-Benz and Volkswagen knew about a defect in Takata airbag inflators several years before they finally recalled vehicles equipped with them.

In all, the defective airbag inflators in the Takata airbags were deemed to be responsible for 13 deaths and over 180 injuries in the United States alone. Worldwide, 22 deaths were attributed to the defective component.

In the case of GM and FCA, the suit, filed in a court in Michigan, claims that the two auto manufacturers were “intimately involved in the design and testing” of the airbags with the defective inflator, and that they “knew, and certainly should have known, that the Takata airbags installed in millions of vehicles were defective.”

A similar suit was filed against Volkswagen in a Virginia Court. Daimler AG, parent company of Mercedes-Benz, was the target of a suit filed in the state of Georgia.

The suits also claim that the four manufacturers knew about the airbag defect since at least 2003, when an airbag installed in a BMW exploded, but issued no recalls until 2014. This was despite the fact that Honda had proceeded with recalls in 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2013, again according to the suits filed this week.

FCA has not yet issued any comment, other than to say it had not yet received the class-action suit. GM has issued a statement explaining that the company has “no reports of inflator ruptures from the field in GM vehicles that were built with these Takata inflators”.

No comment has been forthcoming as of yet from Volkswagen or Mercedes-Benz.

Since the problem of defective Takata airbag inflators came to light, some 50 million airbags have been recalled, affecting 37 million vehicles in all. Of those, only 21.3 million have been brought in to have the airbags changed.