The pronouncement comes as the Takata itself heads toward U.S. bankruptcy.
Automakers should bear “ultimate responsibility” of meeting the cost of the ongoing Takata airbag recall, the National Highway Transport Safety Administration has said, as Takata itself heads towards bankruptcy.
According to Automotive News, NHTSA head Mark Rosekind told reporters at a briefing in Detroit that he is concerned about the slow progress being made in fixing over 300,000 older vehicles, most of them Hondas, whose airbags have a 50 percent of failure.
16 deaths worldwide have been linked to defective Takata airbag inflators that fired shrapnel into the cars’ cabin. The most recent occurred in California in September, when a 50-year old woman died after a crash in her 2001 Honda Civic.
Honda noted it had sent 20 recall notices to the owners of the car since 2008, but that they had been ignored.
Rosekind suggested the situation is so urgent that teams could be sent to carry out roadside repairs of affected cars.
Such is the scale of the recall, with 100 million airbags worldwide requiring replacement, that Takata has been plunged into financial chaos. According to Reuters, sources have said the company is considering making a Chapter 11 filing for its U.S. division, TK Holdings, which handles around half of Takata’s sales.
Takata is known to be seeking a sponsor to cover the vast costs of the recall and pay off its creditors, including Honda Motor Co., the Renault Nissan Alliance, and Ford Motor Co. Automakers have so far borne the brunt of the costs of the recall.
Speaking at a briefing, Takata chief financial officer Yoichiro Nomura said: “Our preference would be to restructure debts through an out-of-court settlement with creditors. This has been our position since the start, and has not changed. Aside from that, we’re open to all options.”
Various estimates have put the full cost of the recall at about $13 billion. And that’s before any legal and compensation costs are taken into account.