The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is ordering Takata to preserve all air bag inflators as part of the ongoing federal investigation.
U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx is requiring Takata to keep all the air bag inflators that are removed through the recall process as evidence for both NHTSA’s investigation and private litigation cases.
“This department is focused on protecting the American public from these defective air bags and at getting to the bottom of how they came to be included in millions of vehicles on U.S. roads,” Foxx said. “This preservation order will help us get the answers we need to accomplish those goals.”
The order also ensures NHTSA’s access to all data from the testing of those removed inflators. Foxx said NHTSA is upgrading the Takata investigation to an engineering analysis, a crucial step in determining the actual cause of the air bag failures.
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Also part of the order issued, Takata will be required to set aside 10 percent of recalled inflators and will have to make them available to private plaintiffs for testing. The company will also be required to submit for NHTSA’s approval plans for gathering, storing and preserving inflators already removed through the recall process and inflators removed in the future, as well as written procedures for making inflators available to plaintiffs and automakers who request access.
About 17 million vehicles equipped with Takata air bags have been recalled since 2008 for air bags that can rupture when they deploy, producing shrapnel that can kill or seriously injure occupants.