The Obama administration is fining Honda $70 million—the largest civil penalty levied against an automaker—for not reporting to regulators some 1,729 complaints that its vehicles caused deaths and injuries, and for not reporting warranty claims. The Japanese automaker acknowledged in November that it failed to report the death and injury complaints to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration over an 11-year period beginning in 2003. The company admitted it learned of the omissions in 2011 but had waited three years to take action. Honda also failed to report certain warranty claims and claims under customer satisfaction campaigns throughout the same period.
The safety administration is imposing twin fines—$35 million for not reporting the death and injury complaints, and another $35 million for not reporting the warranty and customer satisfaction claims. Both fines are the maximums the agency is legally allowed to impose. The Honda complaints include incidents related to air bags made by Japanese auto supplier Takata Corp., as well as other defective parts. Honda has recalled more than 5 million vehicles in the US since 2008 to fix a potentially fatal defect in the Takata air bags. Their inflators can rupture after a crash and injure occupants with shards of metal. (Read more Honda stories.)