Honda plans to launch a multi-million dollar ad campaign to urge owners of Honda and Acura automobiles with possibly defective Takata airbags to have them fixed as soon as possible. Honda and nine other automakers have recalled millions of affected vehicles. The airbags, manufactured by Takata, a Japanese manufacturer, are at risk of tearing loose from their mountings and blasting shrapnel into the passenger compartment. Five deaths have been tied to the faulty airbags, specifically within Honda vehicles.
Honda’s ad campaign will urge “Honda and Acura owners to immediately check for open recalls and safety improvement campaigns, and to take affected vehicles to an authorized dealer for free repair as soon as possible.” The executive vice president of the automobile division of American Honda Motor affirms the importance and urgency of the ad campaign, stating, “The goals of this campaign are to save lives and prevent injuries.”
Takata is refusing to declare the airbags defective, leaving the 10 automakers that use its bags to recall affected vehicles. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is demanding more cooperation from Takata and is threatening to sue the company to force it to comply. Last month, the U.S. government announced that it would begin fining the company $14,000 a day for refusing to cooperate with the NHTSA regarding the faulty airbags.
The U.S. Transportation Secretary stated, “Safety is a shared responsibility, and Takata’s failure to fully cooperate with our investigation is unacceptable and will not be tolerated. For each day that Takata fails to fully comply with our demands, we will hit them with another fine.”
In 2004, a Takata airbag in a Honda Accord ruptured and spewed metal debris at a driver in Alabama. According to whistleblowers within Takata’s company, in response, they secretly conducted tests of 50 airbags, revealing the tendency of some airbags to crack and rupture. Instead of reporting the possible danger to federal safety regulators, whistleblowers say Takata executives discounted the results and ordered their lab technicians to delete the test data from their computers and throw away the evidence of the test.
Today, more than 14 million vehicles have been recalled by automakers due to rupture risks. Takata remains one of the world’s largest suppliers of airbags, accounting for about one-fifth of the global market.