US auto safety chief says Takata more forthcoming on air bags

Reuters News
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Posted: Mar 13, 2015 10:10 AM

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Takata Corp, under pressure from a $14,000 daily fine from U.S. regulators, has started to become more cooperative about documents involving a deadly default in its air bag inflators, the top U.S. auto safety regulator said on Friday.

“They’re starting to become forthcoming,” National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Administrator (NHTSA) Mark Rosekind told an audience of consumer advocates. “My understanding is that yesterday, things started changing around.” he added, without elaborating.

NHTSA slapped the $14,000-per-day fine on Takata last month for failing to cooperate fully with its probe of air bag inflators that have been linked to at least six deaths and dozens of injuries. The devices, which can explode and spray metal shards into passenger compartments, have resulted in 17 million vehicle recalls in the United States alone.

The government accused Takata of dumping more than 2.4 million pages of documents on the NHTSA without any guide to or explanation of the content.

Despite new signs of cooperation, Rosekind said it would take several meetings between NHTSA and Takata representatives to change the situation significantly.

I’m not sure they’re far enough yet,” he said at a meeting of the Consumer Federation of America.

Roseking, a former member of the National Transportation Safety Board, took NHTSA's helm in December amid expectations that he would make the auto regulator more responsive to defect issues following its slow response to recent problem with Takata and General Motors Co ignition switches.

(Reporting by David Morgan; Editing by Jonathan Oatis)