Industryweek 21744 Airbag Recall

Toyota, Carmakers to Pay $553 Million over Air-Bag Losses

May 18, 2017
Toyota’s portion of the settlement is the highest, at $278.5 million. BMW will pay $131 million, covering 2.3 million vehicles. 

Toyota Motor Corp., Subaru Corp., Mazda Motor Corp. and BMW have reached settlements worth $553 million to resolve economic-loss claims tied to Takata Corp. air-bag recalls.

The companies will reimburse out-of-pocket expenses, provide loaners to some vehicle owners and set up an outreach program to increase participation in recalls, according to court papers filed on May 18. Under the accords, any funds left over will be paid, up to $500 each, to owners or leasers of vehicles.

Takata’s products, which can malfunction sending shards of metal at drivers and passengers, have been linked to at least 17 deaths worldwide. The Takata products have been the subject of the largest product recall in history, expected to cover more than 100 million air bags.

The recalls and accidents set off multiple lawsuits against Takata and the car companies using the air bags, alleging personal injuries or deaths or economic losses tied to the products. Takata also reached a $1 billion settlement with the U.S. that included a $25 million criminal fine.

The settlements are aimed at pushing completion rates for recalls, Peter Prieto, a plaintiffs’ lawyer, said in a statement. As of April 28, the recall completion rates for the four companies ranged from a high at 31.9% for Toyota to a low at 16.5% for BMW, citing federal regulators’ statistics.

“We look forward to accelerating the removal of Takata airbags from the roads,’’ Prieto said.

The settlement covers 15.8 million vehicles, with Toyota having the biggest share, at 9.2 million. The settlement doesn’t cover claims over personal injuries or deaths. Plaintiffs are still pursuing these suits, as well economic loss claims against Ford Motor Co., Honda Motor Co. and Nissan Motor Co., according to their lawyers.

“The programs offered in these agreements are intended to increase recall remedy completion rates for Takata airbag inflators, among other customer benefits,” the carmakers said in a joint statement Thursday.

Toyota’s portion of the settlement is the highest, at $278.5 million. BMW will pay $131 million, covering 2.3 million vehicles, plaintiffs’ attorneys said.

The settlements will require approval from the court. The rental-car program will begin after preliminary approval is granted, plaintiffs’ lawyers said.

By Margaret Cronin Fisk

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