Nissan agrees to pay US$98m to settle US class-action claims over Takata air bags

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 09 August, 2017, 2:29pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 09 August, 2017, 4:31pm

Nissan Motor Co on Tuesday agreed to pay US$97.7 million to settle class-action claims of consumer economic loss in the United States tied to the recall of 4.4 million vehicles with Takata air bag inflators, court records show.

Nissan said in a statement that it was not admitting fault under the settlement.

The settlement is similar to others reached with major carmakers. In June, a federal judge in Miami granted preliminary approval to settlements with Toyota Motor Corp, Subaru Corp, BMW AG and Mazda Motor Corp totalling US$553 million and affecting 15.8 million vehicles with Takata inflators.

At least 18 deaths and 180 injuries worldwide have been tied to the defect that led Takata Corp to file for bankruptcy protection in June. Takata inflators can explode with excessive force, unleashing metal shrapnel inside cars and trucks.

Honda Motor Co and Ford Motor Co to date have not agreed to settle consumer economic loss claims.

All the settlements reached so far include an outreach programme to contact owners of recalled vehicles and to address the low number of completed repairs, as well as compensation for economic losses including out-of-pocket expenses; a possible residual distribution payment of up to US$500; rental cars for some owners; and a customer support programme for repairs and adjustments, including an extended warranty.

Nissan said its settlement is “intended to significantly increase customer outreach and to accelerate recall remedy completion rates for Takata airbag inflator recalls.”

As of late June, only 29.9 per cent of Nissan vehicles recalled with Takata inflators had been fixed. The settlement is subject to court approval. A hearing to grant final approval for the other four carmaker settlements is set for October 25.

In January, Takata agreed to plead guilty to criminal wrongdoing and to pay US$1 billion to resolve a US federal investigation into its inflators.

As part of the Justice Department settlement, Takata agreed to establish two independently administered restitution funds: one for US$850 million to compensate carmakers for recalls and a US$125 million fund for individuals injured by its airbags who had not already reached a settlement.