A US grand jury has indicted three former Takata executives for allegedly defrauding car makers by using misleading test reports on the company’s rupture-prone airbags.
Takata executives Shinichi Tanaka, Hideo Nakajima and Tsuneo Chikaraishi face criminal charges for conspiracy and wire fraud regarding the alleged fraud undertaken for more than a decade at the Japanese automotive supplier.
US authorities plan to work with Japanese officials to extradite the men to face the charges.
Company pleads guilty
The charges came in the wake of Takata separately pleading guilty to wire fraud, agreeing to pay $US1 billion ($A1.3 billion) to resolve the two-year Justice Department investigation into the company’s handling of the malfunctioning airbags, which are at risk of rupturing and spraying shrapnel through vehicle cabins.
Takata agreed to pay a criminal penalty of $US25 million within 30 days, plus $US850 million to car makers slugged with the cost of undertaking the recall.
Airbags recall expands to Tesla, Ferrari
The auto industry’s largest-ever recall just got larger, with manufacturers including Tesla and Ferrari added to the list of models affected by the Takata airbag fiasco.
More than 100 million cars have now been affected by the recall, with at least 184 people in the US alone injured in incidents involving the potentially deadly airbags, and 11 people killed (16 killed worldwide).
The US Department of Transportation has said it will press the car industry to accelerate the pace of replacements for defective Takata airbag inflators and signalled a likely widening of the recall.
The department said the Takata recall would eventually include about 42 million US vehicles and between 64 million and 69 million airbag inflators in the US.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), which is part of the Transportation Department, issued a list of all vehicle models from 19 car makers involved in the Takata recalls.
New to the list is the Tesla Motors Model S, with the recall affecting certain cars from the 2012 to 2016 model years.
About 12.5 million of the 46 million airbag inflators already recalled have been replaced so far.
Australian list reaches two million
Almost two million Australian cars have been affected by the recall, with Lexus announcing in January that it would recall a further 2,166 vehicles. More than half of those (1,231) are the IS350 while around a quarter (565) are for the IS250 sedan.
That is in addition to the original Lexus IS recall, announced mid-2016, which affected around 21,750 vehicles.
Lexus joins the other eight manufacturers who have issued recall notices in Australia: BMW, Ferrari, Honda, Mazda, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Subaru and Toyota.