Takata says it failed to report airbag rupture in 2003

Takata says it failed to report airbag rupture in 2003
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Takata Corp. says it failed to report that one of its air bag inflators ruptured in Switzerland in 2003, according to Reuters.

Defective Takata airbags have been the subject of the largest auto recall in U.S. history after being linked to at least 11 deaths and hundreds of injuries. The Japanese auto part maker expanded its massive recall to include more airbag inflators this May.

Takata uses ammonium nitrate to fill its air bags in a crash, but the chemical can deteriorate and burn too fast when exposed to heat and humidity for long periods. Those air bags then become volatile and can explode with too much force, spraying shrapnel into the vehicle.

An internal Takata report recently released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) shows that the manufacturer did not inform U.S. safety regulators about the Switzerland incident.

Reuters first reported the 2003 air bag rupture in December 2014.

The Takata report says that the 2003 incident was caused by an air bag inflator overload, but the company made production changes to address that issue, so it chose not to report the incident to the NHTSA in 2010.

Takata also claims in its report that the company’s U.S. arm, not the parent company, was primarily in charge of designing, testing and producing tens of millions of defective air bag inflators, according to Reuters.

The internal report was required by the NHTSA as part of the company's settlement that was announced in November, according to a Takata spokesman.

"Takata has focused extensive resources on researching and testing of airbag inflators, including working with independent, world class, technical experts to identify the causes of the inflator failures," Takata spokesman Jared Levy told Reuters.

In Congress, Democratic Sens. Bill NelsonClarence (Bill) William NelsonSenators debate new business deduction, debt in tax law hearing Winners and losers from Jim Bridenstine’s confirmation as NASA administrator Vulnerable Senate Dems have big cash advantages MORE (Fla.), Richard Blumenthal (Conn.) and Ed MarkeyEdward (Ed) John MarkeyDem senators demand Trump explain ties to Koch brothers Overnight Cybersecurity: Senators want info on 'stingray' surveillance in DC | Bills to secure energy infrastructure advance | GOP lawmaker offers cyber deterrence bill Overnight Tech: Alleged robocall kingpin testifies before Congress | What lawmakers learned | Push for new robocall rules | Facebook changes privacy settings ahead of new data law | Time Warner CEO defends AT&T merger at trial MORE (Mass.) have pushed a bill that would allow criminal penalties to be imposed on automakers that conceal information about safety defects and eliminate the cap on the NHTSA’s ability to fine automakers who fail to comply with recall regulations.

The NHTSA has fined Takata for not immediately reporting a known airbag safety defect, but Democrats want to see further enforcement action.

“Meager fines do nothing more than change the costs of doing business and provide no meaningful deterrence for continuing reprehensible and irresponsible behavior that costs countless preventable injuries and lives,” Blumenthal and Markey said in a statement.