Takata pleads guilty over faulty airbags

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Takata has been under federal investigation since its rupture-prone airbags were linked to 11 USA deaths and dozens of injuries around the globe, leading to the largest auto recall in US history.

Takata's finance chief, Yoichiro Nomura, entered the guilty plea on the company's behalf during court proceedings.

Dozens of lawsuits have been filed against air bag manufacturer Takata, as well as five other automakers.

As the latest update in the company's long-running airbag scandal, Takata Corp has pleaded guilty to hiding the problems affecting its airbag inflators.

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The documents filed by lawyers representing victims and their families claim that Honda, Ford, BMW, Toyota and Nissan have known about the issues with the Japanese manufacturer's airbags for more than a decade but used the airbags anyway because Takata was cheaper than its competitors and could produce the bulk quantities the automakers needed, according to the court documents.

Separately, plaintiffs' lawyers alleged in court documents filed in a different legal case in Florida that auto companies for years equipped millions of vehicles with Takata air bags to save money despite knowledge the devices could endanger motorists.

"The automotive defendants were aware that rupture after rupture, both during testing and in the field, confirmed how unsafe and defective Takata's air bags were", the court document said. The allegation that Honda chose Takata air-bag inflaters to save money "is categorically false" as entire air-bag modules the company purchased weren't consistently more or less expensive than competing products, the auto maker said.

Auto makers have deeper pockets than Takata for plaintiffs' seeking legal awards and are paying significant sums to recall and fix vehicles.

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Prieo's court filing points to specific evidence of this malfeasance, as well.

"Takata abused the trust of both its customers and the public by allowing airbag inflators to be put in vehicles knowing that the inflators did not meet the required specifications".

According to the filing, internal documents from Ford, Nissan, and Toyota suggest that despite concerns over the safety of the devices, the cost of vehicle production influenced the decision to keep using Takata's airbags, which have been found to explode with such force that pieces of metal fly at occupants.

Takata's inflators utilise ammonium nitrate to set off a small explosion to activate the air bags in the event of a crash.

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All but one of the deaths have occurred in Honda vehicles.

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