US opens probe into Honda reporting of Takata air bag failures

Credit: Reuters/Yuya Shino

A pedestrian walks past a logo of Honda Motor Co outside the company's dealership in Tokyo October 28, 2014.

Regulators gave Honda three weeks to answer detailed questions about how it sought and logged accident reports for more than a decade. Monday's order, which includes 34 points, must be answered under oath.

'Honda and the other automakers are legally obligated to report this information to us and failure to do so will not be tolerated,' NHTSA Deputy Administrator David Friedman said in a statement.

U.S. law requires that automakers submit to the NHTSA on a quarterly basis so-called Early Warning Reporting data on every incident where they have received information about a death or injury involving their vehicles that might have been caused by a defect.

In a statement, the NHTSA said that it was particularly eyeing air bag malfunctions.

'NHTSA has received information indicating that [Honda] failed to report incidents involving Takata air bags,' the agency said in a statement.

'NHTSA is also concerned that Honda's reporting failures go beyond the Takata incidents.'

On Monday evening, Honda said that it had contracted a third-party audit of potential inaccuracies 'and will soon share our findings' with NHTSA.

Federal regulators in June asked carmakers for help identifying suspect air bags manufactured by Takata Corp (7312.T) - Honda's largest supplier of the safety device.

The air bags and inflators can explode with excessive force and spray metal shards into vehicle occupants.

Since 2008, ten global vehicle manufacturers that use Takata air bags have recalled more than 10 million cars in the United States and more than 17 million worldwide to replace inflators that have been linked to at least four deaths and numerous serious injuries.

(Reporting by Eric Beech and Patrick Rucker in Washington; editing by Eric Walsh, Peter Cooney and Steve Orlofsky)


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