Takata is reportedly close to making a settlement with federal prosecutors over the defective airbag recall, which is now the biggest recall in the history of the automotive industry. According to Reuters, the Japanese company could agree to pay a penalty of up to $1 billion and will announce the deal in the next few weeks. Citing people familiar with the matter, The Wall Street Journal states that the statement will be actually considerably less than $1 billion and will be paid over a course of several years.
One of the points that remain unsolved is whether there will be any guilty plea to criminal misconduct, either by the company or one of its subsidiaries. Once the agreement between Takata and the Justice Department is signed, the company would no longer be under a government investigation.
Earlier in December, the Department of Transportation announced it wants to accelerate the process of replacing the faulty airbag inflators. Parts for the campaign will have to be obtained on an accelerated basis and made available first to the riskiest vehicles. The National Highway Transport Safety Administration also said it is concerned about the slow progress being made so far and that teams could be sent to carry out roadside repairs of affected cars.
Ultimately, the Takata recall will affect approximately 64 to 69 million inflators in a total of 42 million recalled vehicles. As of early December, roughly 12.5 million airbags have already been repaired - 6.7 million driver side airbags and 5.8 passenger side airbags. This number represents less than 20 percent off all affected cars.
In November, the NHTSA announced automakers should bear “ultimate responsibility” of meeting the cost of the ongoing recall. Takata is believed to be searching for sponsors to cover the vast costs of the recall and pay off its creditors. Still, the company has said it “has dramatically ramped up production and capacity of airbag replacement kits.”