Takata’s defect has killed 11 people and injured over 100 others
Capping an extraordinary week for corporate crime busting, on Friday Takata plead guilty to fraud charges and agreed to pay a whopping $1 billion fine. And three Takata executives were criminally charged for their part in the deadly cover-up. The indictment accuses the three executives of falsifying test data that resulted in at least 11 deaths — two of whom were Texans — and over 100 injuries, many serious.
Takata airbags in 42 million vehicles sold in the U.S. from 2002 have exploded and sent deadly medal shards shooting into the car’s interior and into the driver’s or passenger’s face, neck, or chest.
Furthermore, on Wednesday six VW executives were indicted and the German company was fined a staggering $4.3 billion for lying about its emission ratings. This brings the total cost it will have to pay, including lawsuit settlements to consumers, to an astonishing $20 billion, the largest amount in history.
After eight years of coddling giant companies, the Obama Administration is certainly going out with a bang.
Since 2004, three enormous corporations in particular — General Motors, Trinity Industries, and Takata — had been producing deadly vehicles or highway guardrails. And company executives knew about the defects and covered up damning evidence, even though they could have recalled their products and saved dozens of lives.
What had been the cost? Not that much. While they were fined millions of dollars and a huge verdict was taken against Trinity Industries, they continued to make excessive profits. G.M. raked in a whopping $43 billion and earned almost $3 billion — just in its most recent quarter — yet fought tooth and nail to avoid paying its victims.
All in all, the consequences for knowingly creating seriously dangerous vehicles and roadside barriers were relatively minor. Until last week.