Honda North America has been fined $70 million on Thursday by the Obama administration for failing to reporting to regulators 1,729 complaints that its vehicles caused deaths and injuries from 2003-2014. Honda also did not report certain warranty claims for when their customers asked for a replacement of a non-working vehicle part or compensation.
The safety administration is imposing twin fines: $35 million for not reporting the death and injury complaints, and another $35 million for not reporting the warranty and customer satisfaction claims, which are the maximums the agency is legally allowed to impose by law.
According to Fox News, Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said the government decided to inflict such extreme fines in order to take a tough stance against automakers who withhold safety information from regulators so the safety of vehicles is enforced.
Honda vehicle complaints include incidents related to defective air bags made by Japanese auto supplier Takata Corp., as well as other defective parts. Honda has recalled more than 5 million vehicles in the U.S. since 2008 to fix a potentially fatal defect in Takata-made air bags, which can rupture after a crash and injure occupants with shards of metal. Honda said that 8 incidents involving Takata air bags and a defective inflator occurred, including 1 death.
Honda has said data entry and computer problems were at least partly to blame for their under-reporting. They said that the discrepancy in reporting was first detected by a company employee in 2011 but never followed up on.
No one has been fired over the incident, and Honda said it would improve its systems and training.
Honda has agreed to pay the fines, but officials have not received all the complaints from Honda yet so they don’t have a tally of how many deaths and injuries are involved. Honda has been given 60 days to produce all the required documents, as of right now they are still working on getting the required reports to federal regulators and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is in the process of checking them.