Detroit 3 to get $182M from Takata for faulty air bags

Keith Laing
Detroit News Washington Bureau

Washington — Detroit automakers will receive $182.3 million from the restitution fund the former Takata Corp. established as part of its guilty plea for producing millions of defective air-bag inflators that can explode with deadly force.

The United States District Court in the Eastern District Of Michigan said Tuesday that General Motors Co. will receive $86.8 million, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV will get $51.8 million and Ford Motor Co. will receive $43.7 million.

The figures are down slightly from a recommendation from those from a special master established to oversee the fund. Recommendations had called for GM to receive $90 million, while Fiat Chrysler would have gotten $53.8 million and Ford would have received $45.3 million.

The payouts follow the recall of nearly 70 million Takata Corp. air bags, which is the largest automotive safety recall in U.S. history. More than 60 companies in all will receive restitution totaling $850 million.

The Japanese air-bag manufacturer, which was sold to Chinese-owned Key Safety Systems that is headquartered in Sterling Heights, will be required to pay $121.5 million to Honda Motor Co., which had the most Takata air bags recalled of any automaker.

The recall of Takata air bags has spread to nearly 13 percent of the total number of registered vehicles in the United States. The faulty air bags have been linked to at least 13 deaths and more than 180 injuries in the United States. Worldwide, 22 have died.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says only 22.3 million of the 50 million air bags recalled by March 2 have been repaired. The defective safety devices from the now-bankrupt Japanese auto supplier were used in 37 million cars, and the problem is expected to grow. Another 20 million faulty air bags in newer cars are expected to be added in the next couple of years.

The older the cars get, the higher the risk: Over time, high humidity can cause the propellant that inflates the safety devices to become unstable and explode with too much force during a crash. That ruptures the metal inflator and throws shrapnel at drivers and passengers.

Fiat Chrysler has about 8.56 million inflators impacted by the recall, and it has repaired about 3.25 million of them according to NHTSA. Ford has 1.57 million recalled air bags, of which it has fixed 756,000. GM has 712,000 recalled air bags and has repaired 400,000.

Honda Motor Co. vehicles are disproportionately represented in the recall numbers. About 16.3 million air bag inflators installed in 11.4 million Hondas and Acuras have been recalled because of safety concerns. The company has repaired about 12.2 million of its faulty Takata air bags, according to NHTSA.

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Twitter: @Keith_Laing