Ford Bagged Again by NHTSA
In a fight with NHTSA regulators, Ford came out on the short end again, as more Takata airbags were at issue. This time, it will cost the automaker $610 million, of which they will have to carry the cost in its entirety.
Takata, the Japanese company whose name is now synonymous with airbag failures and bankruptcy, was at the center of the largest recall in automotive history. That a single supplier was able to put their airbag on so many different vehicles around the world says volumes for globalization and the cost-cutting measures that would lead OEMs to Takata. According to a CNN.com story, Takata airbag recalls began in 2014, and prior to this week’s announcement, had reached 67 million airbags in more than 40 million vehicles in the U.S. alone.
Previously in Japan, leaders of companies like Takata would publicly declare their guilt, ask all who were affected for their forgiveness, and to clear the names of their families, would commit seppuku. If that term is unfamiliar, it’s also known as hari-kiri, to publicly disembowel yourself to rid yourself and your family of shame. Sadly, to the best of my knowledge, none of the corporate heads of Takata had the decency to observe this tradition, and it should continue to hang over the heads of not only Takata’s directors but their families, too (Ed. note — this is a joke and meant to be taken as such). Three Takata executives, Shinichi Tanaka, Hideo Nakajima, and Tsuneo Chikaraishi, were indicted by a grand jury in Japan. All three had worked for Takata in the U.S. and Japan until around 2015 when it was first noted that there were problems with their airbags.
Ford argued unsuccessfully that the Takata airbags used in the models and years affected by this recall are different than those involved in the previous recalls. NHTSA safety regulators said they still pose a risk and rejected Ford’s assertion. Models covered by the recall include the 2007-11 Ford Ranger, the 2006-12 Fusion, the 2007-10 Edge, the 2006-12 Lincoln Zephyr, and the 2007-10 MKX. You will receive a notification if your vehicle is included in the recall, you can enter the VIN number on Ford’s website, or check with your local Ford dealer. Ford will repair the airbags free of charge, and your local dealer may provide a loaner car if you ask nicely.