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Press Release

Alaska Department of Law Announces $85 Million Multistate Settlement with American Honda Motor Company, Inc., and Honda of America, Mfg., Inc.

August 25, 2020

(Anchorage, AK) – The Alaska Department of Law announces an $85 million multistate settlement with American Honda Motor Co., Inc. and Honda of America Mfg., Inc. (collectively “Honda”), over allegations Honda concealed safety issues related to defects in the frontal airbag systems installed in certain Honda and Acura vehicles sold in the United States. The systems were designed and manufactured by Takata Corporation, a long-time Honda supplier, and were first installed in Honda vehicles in the 2001 model year.

The settlement, reached between the attorneys general of 48 states and the District of Columbia and Honda, concludes a multistate investigation into Honda’s alleged failure to inform regulators and consumers that the frontal airbags posed a significant risk of rupture, which could cause metal fragments to fly into the passenger compartments of many Honda and Acura vehicles. The ruptures have resulted in at least 14 deaths and over 200 injuries in the United States alone.

“Vehicle manufacturers have a moral and legal obligation to report safety issues in a timely fashion,” says Assistant Attorney General John Haley. “This settlement sends a message to vehicle manufacturers that safety cannot be compromised.”

The states allege that Honda engineers suspected that the airbags’ propellant, ammonium nitrate, could burn aggressively and cause the inflator to burst. Despite these concerns, Honda delayed warning consumers or automobile safety officials, even as it began partial recalls of affected vehicles in 2008 and 2009.  Further, Honda continued to represent that its vehicles, including its airbags, were safe.  Since 2008, Honda has recalled approximately 12.9 million Honda and Acura vehicles equipped with the suspect inflators.

The states allege that Honda’s actions, or more accurately its failures to act, as well as its misrepresentations about the safety of its vehicles, were unfair and deceptive, and that Honda’s conduct violated state consumer protection laws, including Alaska’s Unfair Trade Practices Act.

Under the terms of the consent judgment, which will be filed with the Superior Court for the Third Judicial District at Anchorage, Honda has agreed to strong injunctive relief, including:

  • Taking steps to ensure that future airbag designs include “fail-safe” features to protect passengers in the event the inflator ruptures.
  • Adopting changes to its procurement process for new frontal airbags, to ensure that its suppliers have the appropriate industry certifications and satisfy key industry performance standards, as well as improve record-keeping and parts tracking.
  • Implementation of recurrence prevention procedures designed to prevent a tragedy like this from ever happening again, such as requiring that Honda approve all new frontal airbag designs before the company considers them for use in new Honda vehicles.
  • Prohibitions on misleading advertisements and point of sale representations regarding the safety of Honda’s vehicles, including the airbags.
  • Making improvements in critical areas such as risk management, quality control, supplier oversight, training and certifications, and implementing mandatory whistleblower protections.

Honda also agreed to pay the participating attorneys general a total of approximately $85,151,210.15, of which Alaska’s share is $930,742.18.

In addition to Alaska, the multistate group – led by South Carolina, consists of Arkansas, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Maryland, New Jersey, Oregon, South Dakota, and Texas – includes Alabama, Alaska, Colorado, Delaware, Guam, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Northern Mariana Islands, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.

The Alaska Department of Law encourages Alaskans who own a Honda or Acura vehicle to visit Honda’s airbag recall website at https://hondaairbaginfo.com, or call its Customer Service toll-free number at (888) 234-2138, to see if their vehicle is subject to a recall. Consumers may also check for open recalls by going to Safercar.gov. All safety recall repairs are FREE at authorized Honda dealers.

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Department Media Contact:Assistant Attorney General Maria Bahr at (907) 269-5285 or maria.bahr@alaska.gov.