Markey and Blumenthal: Potential Takata Restructuring Could Undermine NHTSA Consent Degree, Endanger Driving Public
Lawmakers urge NHTSA to ensure that Takata recalls are safe, effective and paid for, and to protect unduly harmed consumers and potential claimants
Washington (September 3, 2016) – Senators Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), members of the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, sent a letter to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) expressing concern about news reports that Takata is soliciting new investors or contemplating bankruptcy or other major restructuring that could undermine its consent decree and consumers could be left with defective airbags that no one will be forced to fix remain. Takata is responsible for the largest auto recall in history, due to exploding airbags that have resulted in ten deaths in the United States. In the letter, the Senators ask NHTSA to inform them as to how it intends to assure that the terms of NHTSA’s consent decree will be complied with under any future bankruptcy, restructuring or new investment arrangements that Takata undergoes.
“We remain extremely concerned that in the event of Takata’s bankruptcy or significant restructuring, it could be consumers who are left with the costs of repairing their defective vehicles, and additionally that past or future victims of this safety defect may also be left behind as other creditors lay first claim to Takata’s assets,” write the Senators in the letter to NHTSA Administrator Mark Rosekind. “We are also concerned that any bankruptcy or restructuring may not occur in a manner that prioritizes Takata’s ability to design and deploy safe replacements for the defective air bags over the short-term financial interests of any potential investor or buyer.”
A copy of the Senators’ letter to NHTSA can be found HERE.
The Senators first expressed concerns with NHTSA’s limited recalls and testing of Takata airbags in October 2014, first called on Takata to recall all vehicles with ammonium nitrate-based airbags in August 2015, and subsequently also expressed serious concern about the pace of Takata recalls and repairs.
In February of this year, Senators Blumenthal and Markey sent a letter urging President Obama to recall every vehicle with airbags using ammonium nitrate as their propellant, and to use “every tool at his disposal” to accelerate the repair of all vehicles with potentially-lethal Takata airbags. In May, the Senators asked NHTSA to make publicly available the make, model, and year of all vehicles that contain Takata airbags that use an ammonium nitrate propellant. In July, they called on Honda to immediately issue a “do not drive” order to owners of vehicles with these dangerous air bags.