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Takata Scandal: $182.3M to the Big Three U.S. Automakers

This week it was the turn of the big three U.S. automakers to be awarded compensation in the wake of the Takata defective-airbags scandal. As part of a plea agreement, a court in the U.S. state of Michigan has awarded $182.3 million (USD) to GM, Ford and FCA (Fiat Chrysler Automobiles) as a result of damages suffered by defective airbags supplied by Japanese firm Takata.

GM will receive $86.8 million, while FCA has been awarded $51.8 million and Ford $43.7 million. In all three cases, the amounts are slightly less than what had been anticipated - though the shortfall is small, only a few million dollars in total.

The decision arises from the recall of some 70 million vehicles due to defective airbags installed in a wide range of different products made by different companies. In all, 60 firms have received some amount of compensation to date. A total of $850 million has been paid out to companies affected by the recall; the amount is such that Takata did not survive the scandal and has since been sold to the Chinese firm Key Safety System, headquartered in Sterling Heights, Michigan.

Honda, the most widely affected company in the affair, will receive $121.5 million in compensation.

The sheer numbers involved in the recalls and payouts demonstrate the amplitude of the airbag scandal. In all, 13% of all vehicles registered in the United States have been recalled due to the defective airbags. It was found that these could explode and cause serious injury and possibly death. Up to now, 13 deaths in the U.S. and 22 around the world have been attributed to the airbags.

Many vehicles not yet repaired

One significant problem that remains is that, in the U.S., only 22.3 million out of the 50 million units affected by recalls related to the airbags have been repaired. The issue of exploding airbags thus remains, and will even grow in the coming years; the older vehicles get, the more vulnerable they are to the problem. Specifically, when humidity levels increase, this can render the propellant that inflates the airbag unstable, and possible cause the airbag to explode too violently during a collision. In some cases, pieces of metal shrapnel have been catapulted at speed into drivers’ faces.

If your vehicle is affected by a recall related to the defective airbag inflators, it is strongly recommended that you have the problem fixed.

By consulting this page on the Transport Canada website, you can verify if your model is part of any recall.