Honda and Takata’s stealth airbag fix

-REUTERS, 29 MARCH 2016, FEAT. PROF. BRYANT WALKER SMITH:

n August of 2009, after ruptured airbag inflators in Honda vehicles were linked to least four injuries and a death, the automaker quietly requested a design change and did not notify U.S. regulators, Honda confirmed in response to inquiries from Reuters.

Honda Motor Co(7267.T) asked supplier Takata Corp(7312.T) to produce a “fail-safe” airbag inflator, according to Takata presentations and internal memos reviewed by Reuters.

The previously undisclosed redesign could make Honda and Takata more vulnerable in more than 100 pending federal lawsuits and dozens more state suits, according to several legal experts and an attorney suing the companies. The request shows that Honda understood the safety risks posed by the inflators long before it started expanding recalls by the millions in 2014, the attorneys and law professors said. <Read More>