Takata Corp. has begun negotiating with the U.S. Department of Justice to reach a settlement in the criminal case against the automotive supplier whose exploding air bag inflators have been tied to more than a dozen deaths globally, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Future criminal charges might ultimately include wire fraud as part of a Takata cover-up attempt, but specific charges are still pending, according to the newspaper. The exploding air bag inflators have been linked to more than 100 injuries and at least 10 deaths in the U.S. alone.
Multiple automakers have cumulatively recalled about 70 million Takata air bag inflators in the U.S. They are being replaced, in staggered fashion, according to the level of risk. The replacement process will conclude in 2019.
Investigators have determined that a combination of time, exposure to moisture, and fluctuating temperatures accelerate degradation of the air bag inflator’s chemical propellant — ammonium nitrate.
Of the 245,000 Takata air bag inflators that have already been removed from vehicles and tested, 660 have ruptured, according to a Bloomberg report based on documents released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.