Automakers settle deadly Takata airbag case for US$553 million

takataNEW YORK: Four automakers including Toyota and BMW agreed Thursday to pay US$553 million to settle a US lawsuit over the defective Takata airbags blamed for 11 deaths in the United States alone.

The lawsuit filed in late February claimed the carmakers were aware of the dangerous defects and used the airbags in their vehicles anyway. Nearly 16 million cars were involved.

Takata agreed pleaded guilty to fraud in February after agreeing to pay a US$1 billion penalty.

In Thursday’s settlement agreement, which still requires court approval, Toyota will pay US$278.5 million, BMW US$131 million, Subaru US$68.3 million and Mazda US$75.8 million. Ford, Honda and Nissan have yet to reach similar agreements.

According to Toyota, the agreement will reimburse plaintiffs for travel costs while their cars are repaired.

“Resolving this litigation will allow us to focus even more resources on addressing the needs of our customers affected by this unprecedented, industry-wide recall,” the four automakers said in a joint statement.

The plaintiffs in the lawsuit alleged the carmakers each knew the Takata airbag inflators were not safe, well before they were installed in millions of cars.

Nearly 100 million cars, including about 70 million in the United States, were subject to the airbag recall, the largest in auto history.