ATLANTA - Georgia will receive nearly $3.3 million from a multi-state settlement with Honda Motor Co. over allegations the carmaker concealed safety issues stemming from defective front airbags, Attorney General Chris Carr announced Tuesday.
The airbag systems were designed and manufactured by Takata Corp., a long-time Honda supplier, and were first installed in Honda vehicles in the 2001 model year.
The settlement concludes a multi-state investigation into Honda’s alleged failure to inform regulators and consumers that the frontal airbags posed a significant risk of rupture, which could cause metal fragments to fly into the passenger compartments of many Honda and Acura vehicles. The ruptures have resulted in at least 14 deaths and more than 200 injuries in the United States alone.
“Marketing its vehicles as safe, despite numerous signs that these airbags posed a significant threat to consumers, was wrong,” Carr said. “Our office will remain vigilant as we continue to protect Georgians from unlawful actions that pose a threat to their health and safety.”
The settlement, which totaled $85.1 million, was reached between Honda and the attorneys general of 45 states, the District of Columbia, Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands.
The plaintiffs claimed Honda engineers suspected that the airbags’ propellant - ammonium nitrate - could burn aggressively and cause the inflator to burst.
Despite these concerns, Honda delayed warning consumers or automobile safety officials, even as it began partial recalls of affected vehicles in 2008 and 2009. Further, Honda continued to represent to consumers that its vehicles, including its airbags, were safe.
Since 2008, Honda has recalled 12.9 million Honda and Acura vehicles equipped with the suspect inflators.
Under the consent judgment, to be filed in Fulton County Superior Court, Honda has agreed to the following requirements:
Ensure that future airbag designs include “fail-safe” features to protect passengers in the event the inflator ruptures.
Adopt changes to its procurement process for new frontal airbags, to ensure that its suppliers have the appropriate industry certifications and satisfy key industry performance standards.
Implement recurrence prevention procedures designed to prevent defective airbags in the future.
Abide by prohibitions on misleading advertisements and point-of-sale representations regarding the safety of Honda vehicles, including the airbags.
Make improvements in critical areas such as risk management, quality control, supplier oversight, training and certifications, and implementing mandatory whistleblower protections.
Consumers who own a Honda or Acura vehicle are strongly encouraged to visit Honda’s airbag recall website at https://hondaairbaginfo.com, or call its Customer Service toll-free number at (888) 234-2138, to see if their vehicle is subject to a recall.