Thanks to its practice of making exploding airbags that had a habit of filling vehicle occupants with shrapnel, Takata was forced to recall 34 million airbags in the largest product recall ever. And now it just received the largest civil penalty in NHTSA history to match it, with a fine of up to $200 million.
It’s worth noting, however, that only $70 million of that is demanded in cash up front, and the remaining $130 million only comes due if Takata fails to either clean up its act, or if NHTSA finds they made additional deadly screw-ups.
From NHTSA’s release on the fine:
The Consent Order issued to Takata imposes a record civil penalty of $200 million and requires the company to phase out the manufacture and sale of inflators that use phase-stabilized ammonium nitrate propellant, which is believed to be a factor in explosive ruptures that have caused 7 deaths and nearly 100 injuries in the United States. The Consent Order also lays out a schedule for recalling all Takata ammonium nitrate inflators now on the roads unless the company can prove they are safe or can show it has determined why its inflators are prone to rupture.
All of that should help NHTSA’s handling of the case slide down easier for the American public, which originally fined Takata only $14,000 a day. But, as we pointed out the last time we discussed NHTSA and Takata fines, even the $200 million figure is a bit of a joke, as Takata recorded $1,268,556,432 in revenue in just the fourth quarter of 2014.
Though, in reality, the largest penalty for Takata won’t be paid in government fines, but in lost business and in the cost of replacing that many airbags.
And also, if Takata execs have any semblance of a soul, the weight of the seven lives and nearly 100 injuries that their products caused.
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