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Honda US confirms 11th Takata-related death: report

Big bang: The logistics of replacing more than a million airbags in a short time frame has motor companies on the rev limiter.

Man in US dies while performing repairs to Honda Accord fitted with Takata airbags

General News logo11 Jul 2017

By ROBBIE WALLIS

AMERICAN Honda Motor Company has confirmed that the death of a Florida man in June last year was due to a defective Takata airbag, according to a report by US publication The Detroit News.

The latest Takata-related fatality brings the death toll to 11 for US Honda vehicles fitted with the Japanese airbag manufacturer’s products.

The Detroit News reports the victim, who was not the owner of the 2001 Accord, was performing repairs on the vehicle with its ignition switch set to the ‘on’ position.

Using a hammer, the deceased accidentally activated the airbag inflator, which ruptured and discharged metal into the cabin, fatally injuring the man. He died from his injuries the next day.

Honda told the US publication that, despite not conclusively knowing whether the death was caused by the rupture or impact from the hammer, it will officially be counted as a Takata-related fatality.

“It is difficult to determine whether the cause of death in this incident was the inflator rupture, or an interaction of the hammer with the deploying airbag,” it said.

“While the absolute cause of death may never be fully determined, Honda now considers this to be the 11th confirmed fatality in its vehicles related to Takata airbag inflator ruptures in the US.”

Honda’s records indicate that the car’s airbag had never been replaced despite multiple recall notices being mailed to its current and previous owners.

The most dangerous airbag faults have been found predominantly in early-2000s Honda models like the Accord, as well as the Civic, CR-V and Odyssey.

The global death toll relating to Takata airbags has now risen to 17, with 12 of those deaths occurring in the US.

While no fatalities have been reported in Australia, one Northern Territory man was alleged to have been injured by a faulty airbag in April this year.

The number of global recalls for Takata airbags now totals over 100 million, and affects a large number of brands including Toyota, BMW, Mitsubishi, Mazda, Ford and Daimler.

Last month, Takata announced it would be filing for bankruptcy protection in the US and Japan, with the manufacturer’s global liabilities expected to reach up to $US10 billion ($A13.1b).

Earlier in the year, Takata pleaded guilty and received a $US1b ($A1.3b) fine as part of a felony charge handed down by the US federal court, which resulted in US-based Key Safety Systems (KSS) buying the company out.

KSS secured the sale of Takata for a sum of $US1.6b ($A2.1b), and will take over its global assets and operations, excluding resources related to the manufacturing and sale of recall-related ammonium nitrate airbag inflators.

The main aim of the takeover is to create minimal disruption and is not expected to affect Takata’s current supply chain, customers or employees.

As of last month, Takata has completed 70 per cent of affected vehicle recalls in Japan and 38 per cent in the US, while figures for the rest of the world are unknown.

At last count, 2.1 million Australian vehicles were affected.

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