Colorado to receive $1.5 million from multistate settlement with American Honda Motor Company, Inc. and Honda of America Mfg., Inc. in defective airbag investigation
Aug. 25, 2020 (DENVER, Colo.) – Attorney General Phil Weiser today announced that the State of Colorado will receive $1,590,271 from an $85 million multistate settlement with American Honda Motor Co., Inc. and Honda of America Mfg., Inc., over allegations Honda concealed safety issues related to defects in the frontal airbag systems installed in certain Honda and Acura vehicles sold in the United States. The systems were designed and manufactured by Takata Corporation, a long-time Honda supplier, and were first installed in Honda vehicles in the 2001 model year.
The settlement, reached between the attorneys general of 43 states and the District of Columbia and Honda, concludes a multistate investigation into Honda’s alleged failure to inform regulators and consumers that the frontal airbags posed a significant risk of rupture, which could cause metal fragments to fly into the passenger compartments of many Honda and Acura vehicles. The ruptures have resulted in at least 14 deaths and over 200 injuries in the United States alone.
“Honda knew that air bags installed in their vehicles could present a danger and it had an obligation to warn consumers. Honda’s conduct, as well as its misrepresentations about the safety of its vehicles, were unfair and deceptive, and violated Colorado’s Consumer Protection Act. We are committed to holding accountable companies that prioritize profits over consumer safety,” Weiser said.
The states have alleged that Honda engineers suspected that the airbags’ propellant, ammonium nitrate, could burn aggressively and cause the inflator to burst. Despite these concerns, Honda delayed warning consumers or automobile safety officials, even as it began partial recalls of affected vehicles in 2008 and 2009. Further, despite these concerns, Honda continued to represent to consumers that its vehicles, including its airbags, were safe. Since 2008, Honda has recalled 12.9 million vehicles equipped with the suspect inflators.
Approximately 228,603 Honda vehicles in Colorado had potentially defective air bags. Honda has repaired or replaced the air bags in 82% of those vehicles and is continuing its efforts to fix the remaining 40,933 Colorado vehicles still in need of repair.
Under the terms of the consent judgment, which will be filed with the Denver District Court, Honda has agreed to:
- Take steps to ensure that future airbag designs include “fail-safe” features to protect passengers in the event the inflator ruptures;
- Adopt changes to its procurement process for new frontal airbags, to ensure that its suppliers have the appropriate industry certifications and satisfy key industry performance standards, as well as improve record-keeping and parts tracking;
- Implement recurrence prevention procedures designed to prevent a tragedy like this from ever happening again, such as requiring that Honda approve all new frontal airbag designs before the company will consider them for use in new Honda vehicles;
- Prohibit misleading advertisements and point of sale representations regarding the safety of Honda’s vehicles, including the airbags; and
- Make improvements in risk management, quality control, supplier oversight, training and certifications, and implement mandatory whistleblower protections.
Consumers who own a Honda or Acura vehicle are encouraged to visit Honda’s airbag recall website at www.hondaairbaginfo.com, or call its Customer Service toll-free number at (888) 234-2138, to see if their vehicle is subject to a recall. Consumers may also check for open recalls by going to Safercar.gov. All safety recall repairs are free at authorized Honda dealers.