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Notice of Coordinated Remedy Program Proceeding for the Replacement of Certain Takata Air Bag Inflators

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

American Government

Notice of Coordinated Remedy Program Proceeding for the Replacement of Certain Takata Air Bag Inflators

Mark R. Rosekind
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
June 5, 2015


[Federal Register Volume 80, Number 108 (Friday, June 5, 2015)]
[Notices]
[Pages 32197-32200]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2015-13756]


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DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

[Docket No. NHTSA-2015-0055]


Notice of Coordinated Remedy Program Proceeding for the 
Replacement of Certain Takata Air Bag Inflators

AGENCY: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), DOT.

ACTION: Notice.

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SUMMARY: In order to prioritize, organize, and phase multiple recalls 
to remedy defective Takata frontal air bag inflators, the National 
Highway Traffic Safety Administration (``NHTSA'') is opening 
proceedings, including a public docket..NHTSA is considering issuing 
one or more administrative orders that would coordinate remedy programs 
associated with defective Takata air bag inflators. Coordination of the 
remedy programs may include, among other things, ``acceleration,'' 
prioritization, organization, and/or phasing of some or all such air 
bag inflator remedy programs. It may further include coordination as to 
air bag inflator sourcing, production, allocation, delivery, 
installation, and adequacy of the remedy. This notice explains events 
leading to today's action and NHTSA's authority to open such a 
proceeding. It also describes some of the issues that the agency 
anticipates considering in the proceeding and information the agency 
requests from commenters as part of such a proceeding.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments to the docket number identified in 
the heading of this document by any of the following methods:
     Federal eRulemaking Portal: Go to http://www.regulations.gov. Follow the online instructions for submitting 
comments.
     Mail: Docket Management Facility, M-30, U.S. Department of 
Transportation, West Building Ground Floor, Rm. W12-140, 1200 New 
Jersey Avenue SE., Washington, DC 20590.
     Hand Delivery or Courier: U.S. Department of 
Transportation, West Building Ground Floor, Rm. W12-140, 1200 New 
Jersey Avenue SE., Washington, DC 20590 between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. ET, 
Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays.
     Fax: (202) 493-2251.
    Regardless of how you submit your comments, you should mention the 
docket number of this document.
    You may call the Docket at 202-366-9324.
    Note that all comments received will be posted without change to 
http://www.regulations.gov, including any personal information 
provided.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: For non-legal issues, Scott Yon, 
Office of Defects Investigation, National Highway Traffic Safety 
Administration (telephone: 202-366-0139); for legal issues, Arija 
Flowers, Office of the Chief Counsel, NCC-111, National Highway Traffic 
Safety Administration, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., Washington, DC 20590 
(telephone: 202-366-8714). Information regarding NHTSA's investigation 
into Takata Air Bag Inflator ruptures is available on

[[Page 32198]]

NHTSA's Web site at: http://www.safercar.gov/rs/takata/index.html.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: To mitigate and control the risk of serious 
injury or death due to an air bag inflator rupture, and to ensure that 
all affected vehicles in the United States are equipped with safe air 
bags as quickly as possible, NHTSA is considering exercising its 
authority under the National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act of 
1966, as amended and recodified (the ``Safety Act''), 49 U.S.C. 30101, 
et seq., to provide national-level leadership and to facilitate the 
prioritization, organization, and phasing of the remedy programs of TK 
Holdings, Inc. (``Takata'') and all vehicle manufacturers having 
recalled, defective Takata frontal air bag inflators. This includes the 
remedy programs of BMW of North America, LLC (``BMW''), Chrysler Group, 
LLC (``Chrysler''), Ford Motor Company (``Ford''), General Motors, LLC 
(``GM''), American Honda Motor Company (``Honda''), Mazda North 
American Operations (``Mazda''), Mercedes-Benz, LLC--DBA Sprinter (``M-
B Sprinter'') (as to Sprinter Vans only), Mitsubishi Motors North 
America, Inc. (``Mitsubishi''), Nissan North America, Inc. 
(``Nissan''), Subaru of America, Inc. (``Subaru''), and Toyota Motor 
Engineering and Manufacturing (``Toyota'') (collectively, the 
``Manufacturers'').

I. The Reasons for a Coordinated Remedy

    The number of recalled air bag inflators and impacted vehicles and 
manufacturers, in combination with the supply issues related to these 
air bag recalls, presents an unprecedented level of complexity to the 
recall and remedy process. As of the date of this Federal Register 
Notice, these recalls of defective Takata air bag inflators constitute 
the largest Safety Act recall in NHTSA's history, and one of the 
largest consumer product recalls in United States history, with 
approximately 34 million air bag inflators currently requiring 
replacement. The risk of harm presented by the defective Takata air bag 
inflators transcends the scope of the usual Safety Act recall. 
Accordingly, NHTSA is hereby opening a coordinated remedy program 
proceeding.
    Each of the Manufacturers, with the exception of M-B Sprinter, has 
previously elected a remedy program of repair for at least some of 
their affected vehicles (specifically, for vehicles that were covered 
by prior Manufacturer recalls). See 49 U.S.C. 30120(a)(1)(A). These 
remedy programs are individual to each of the Manufacturers, creating a 
patch-work solution that NHTSA believes may not adequately address the 
safety risks presented by the defective Takata air bag inflators within 
a reasonable time. Based on the currently available data, these recalls 
involve varying levels of risk of harm which must be mitigated and 
controlled: The risk of the air bag inflator rupturing when the air bag 
is inflated, which may result in serious injury or death to vehicle 
occupants without prior warning.
    Specifically, NHTSA is issuing this notice pursuant to its 
authority under the Safety Act to ``accelerate'' remedy programs, 49 
U.S.C. 30120(c)(3) and 49 CFR 573.14, to inspect and investigate, 49 
U.S.C. 30166(b)(1), to ensure that defective vehicles and equipment are 
recalled and remedied, 49 U.S.C. 30118 through 30120, and to ensure 
that the remedy for the defect is adequate, 49 U.S.C. 30120, as 
delegated by the Secretary of Transportation (``the Secretary''), 49 
CFR 1.95 and 501.2(a)(1). Given the severity of the possible harm, 
variable nature of the risk of harm to be mitigated and controlled, 
unprecedented number of vehicles and entities affected, and imperative 
for public confidence in the safety of their vehicle air bags, NHTSA is 
therefore opening a public proceeding, including a public docket, to 
investigate challenges and solutions related to the Takata air bag 
inflator recalls and to gather public comments on those issues.
    NHTSA also anticipates collaborating in this proceeding with other 
Tier One inflator suppliers, which may include ARC Automotive, Inc. 
(``ARC''), Autoliv Americas (``Autoliv''), Key Safety Systems (``Key 
Safety''), Toyoda Gosei North America Corporation (``Toyoda''), TRW 
Automotive (``TRW''), and Special Devices, Inc./Daicel Group 
(``Daicel'') (collectively, the ``Suppliers'') to craft solutions that 
further mitigate and control the risk of harm by ensuring safe air bags 
in every motor vehicle in the United States.

II. Background on Defective Takata Frontal Air Bag Inflators

    The first recall involving a rupturing Takata driver side frontal 
air bag inflator was initiated by Honda on November 11, 2008, and was 
designated by NHTSA as Recall No. 08V-593. At that time, the defect was 
thought to be the result of a specific manufacturing issue involving 
one of the propellant presses at Takata's Moses Lake, Washington plant. 
Due to various discrepancies in Takata's recordkeeping for the affected 
parts, Honda had to expand the scope of the recall several times 
between 2009 and 2011. Those recall expansions were designated by NHTSA 
as Recall Nos. 09V-259, 10V-041, and 11V-260.
    The first recall involving a rupturing Takata passenger side 
frontal air bag inflator was initiated by Takata on April 11, 2013, and 
involved the following vehicle manufacturers: BMW, Honda, Mazda, 
Nissan, and Toyota. The various recall submissions were designated by 
NHTSA as Recall Nos. 13E-017, 13V-130, 13V-132, 13V-133, 13V-136, and 
13V-172. At that time, the defect was thought to be the result of two 
specific manufacturing issues--(1) The possibility that the auto-reject 
function on the propellant press had been manually disabled, and (2) 
the possibility that certain propellant lots were exposed to 
uncontrolled moisture conditions at Takata's Monclova, Mexico plant.
    Between August 2013 and April 2014, NHTSA received three Vehicle 
Owner Questionnaires (VOQs) that alleged air bag inflator ruptures in 
vehicle populations outside the scope of the prior driver side and 
passenger side frontal air bag recalls. In late-May 2014, Takata 
confirmed the three ruptures with NHTSA's Office of Defects 
Investigation (ODI), and notified ODI of an additional three ruptures 
(for a total of six rupture incidents between August 2013 and May 
2014). On June 10, 2014, NHTSA convened a conference call, after which 
Takata and the affected vehicle manufacturers agreed to initiate 
regional parts collection campaigns in Florida, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, 
and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The initial data underlying these regional 
actions indicated that certain Takata frontal air bag inflators in 
regions prone to long-term high absolute humidity and temperatures pose 
a safety risk.
    On June 11, 2014, NHTSA opened a preliminary evaluation, PE14-016, 
to investigate the six identified rupture incidents involving driver 
side and passenger side frontal air bag inflators manufactured by 
Takata. (PE14-016 was later upgraded to an engineering analysis, EA15-
001, on February 24, 2015.)
    During the period of October through December 2014, service 
campaigns related to the passenger side frontal air bags were converted 
to recalls and the geographic scope was expanded, though still limited 
to certain regions with higher levels of absolute humidity and high 
temperatures. Also during this period, NHTSA sent letters to Takata and 
the Manufacturers (except M-B Sprinter, whose air bag inflators were 
not then identified as having any defect) regarding their efforts and 
abilities, individually, to accelerate the supply of

[[Page 32199]]

replacement air bags and emphasizing the importance of their continued 
efforts to promptly and effectively remedy the serious safety risk 
posed to consumers by the defective Takata air bag inflators. Further, 
as part of its ongoing investigation and oversight of the defective 
Takata frontal air bag inflators, NHTSA issued a pair of Special Orders 
to Takata on October 30, and November 18, 2014, a Special Order to 
Honda on November 5, 2014, and General Orders to BMW, Chrysler, Ford, 
GM, Honda, Mazda, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Subaru, and Toyota on November 
18, 2014.
    Also on November 18, 2014, NHTSA publicly demanded that the five 
auto manufacturers with affected driver side frontal air bag inflators 
expand their regional campaigns and conduct a nationwide recall of 
vehicles equipped with the subject driver side frontal air bag 
inflators. This decision was based on, among other things, the agency's 
evaluation of a recent driver side frontal air bag failure in a vehicle 
outside the current regional recall area, and its relationship to five 
previous driver side frontal air bag inflator ruptures. Beginning in 
December 2014, BMW, Chrysler, Ford, Honda and Mazda initiated national 
service campaigns or safety improvement campaigns on vehicles with 
these driver side frontal air bag inflators.
    On November 26, 2014, NHTSA demanded that Takata conduct a national 
recall of driver side frontal air bag inflators. In a response dated 
December 2, 2014, Takata declined to do so. Despite Takata's response, 
NHTSA continued insisting that Takata conduct a national recall.
    On May 18, 2015, at NHTSA's urging, Takata filed four Defect 
Information Reports (``DIR's'') pursuant to 49 CFR 573.6. In those 
DIR's, Takata determined that a defect exists in certain models of 
frontal air bag inflators (specifically, the PSDI, PSDI-4, PSDI-4K, 
SPI, PSPI and PSPI-L).
    As of May 27, 2015, ruptured Takata air bag inflators allegedly 
resulting in death or injury have been confirmed in 95 incidents in the 
United States. Many of these incidents resulted in serious injury to 
vehicle occupants. In five of the incidents, the vehicle's driver died, 
allegedly as a result of injuries sustained from the rupture of the air 
bag inflator. In other incidents, vehicle occupants allegedly suffered 
injuries including cuts or lacerations to the face or neck, broken or 
fractured facial bones, loss of eyesight, broken teeth, and traumatic 
brain injury.

III. Coordinated Remedy Program Proceeding

    The Safety Act requires manufacturers to remedy safety-related 
defects in motor vehicles. 49 U.S.C. 30120(a). The remedy must be 
adequate to protect the American public from the safety risk posed by 
the defect. 49 U.S.C. 30120(c). Manufacturers are required to notify 
both the Secretary and vehicle owners of safety related defects, 49 
U.S.C. 30118, including procedures for owners to follow to have the 
safety-related defect remedied, 49 U.S.C. 30119. The Safety Act also 
authorizes the Secretary to conduct investigations to enforce the 
Safety Act, 49 U.S.C. 30166(b)(1), issue general and special orders 
(responses to which are compulsory), hold hearings, and take testimony, 
49 U.S.C. 30166(g)(1). If the Secretary determines that a 
manufacturer's remedy program is not likely to be capable of completion 
within a reasonable time, the Secretary may require the manufacturer to 
``accelerate'' the remedy program if the Secretary finds that there is 
a risk of serious injury or death if the remedy program is not 
accelerated, and that acceleration of the remedy program can be 
reasonably achieved by expanding the sources of replacement parts, 
expanding the number of authorized repair facilities, or both. 49 
U.S.C. 30120(c)(3). The Secretary has delegated his authorities under 
the Safety Act, including each of the above, to the NHTSA 
Administrator, 49 CFR 1.95(a) and 501.2(a)(1). Accordingly, NHTSA is 
opening this coordinated remedy proceeding to investigate issues 
related to the remedy of defective Takata frontal air bag inflators and 
to coordinate remedy programs, if and as appropriate based upon the 
findings of the proceeding.
    As an initial matter, NHTSA seeks a full, open, and collaborative 
process, without compromising NHTSA's objectives of safety, that 
facilitates thoughtful problem-solving and engages all regulated 
entities in developing and implementing solutions to this significant 
safety risk. For example, NHTSA anticipates that it will collaborate 
with the Manufacturers, gathering information and data from each 
Manufacturer regarding, among other things, information related to 
production of replacement frontal air bag inflators and their 
distribution. Upon receipt, public versions of all responses to NHTSA's 
requests will be posted to this docket.
    NHTSA also anticipates engaging the Suppliers in a cooperative, 
collaborative process seeking, among other things, information related 
to current production capabilities, possible enhanced production 
capabilities in the future, and any challenges to quickly increasing 
production of these specific parts. This process will involve 
requesting specific information from Suppliers and engaging in candid, 
thoughtful dialogue with Suppliers.
    NHTSA further anticipates significant industry outreach to 
facilitate the forging of collaborative partnerships. Among other 
approaches, NHTSA anticipates convening one or more meetings, 
individually and/or in groups, with Takata, Manufacturers, Suppliers, 
and/or others to candidly discuss the challenges these industries are 
facing and, again, work collaboratively to create solutions that 
further mitigate and control the risk of harm presented by defective 
Takata air bag inflators and the challenges to achieving a satisfactory 
recall/remedy completion rate. Further, NHTSA may decide to hold a 
public hearing and, if so, NHTSA will provide information on the scope, 
date, time, and location of, and how to participate in, such a hearing 
in a subsequent Federal Register Notice.

IV. NHTSA's Request for Public Comments

    While NHTSA will request certain information from Takata, 
Manufacturers, Suppliers, and other regulated entities in this 
proceeding, NHTSA also seeks comments from the public. NHTSA requests 
comments regarding, among other things, how NHTSA can most effectively 
exercise its authority with respect to prioritizing, organizing, and 
phasing recall and remedy programs involving the defective Takata 
frontal air bag inflators as described above, and methods for ensuring 
that Manufacturers and Takata achieve satisfactory recall/remedy 
completion rates.
    NHTSA also requests comments on how Takata, Manufacturers, 
Suppliers, and other regulated entities would comply with one or more 
administrative orders that NHTSA may issue at the conclusion of this 
proceeding, upon consideration of the relevant data, facts found, and 
choices made. NHTSA is further requesting comments on the possible 
terms of any such order(s). In particular, NHTSA requests comments 
relating to (1) whether, and how, NHTSA should order Takata and/or 
other regulated entities to source replacement parts for Manufacturers, 
(2) whether, and how, NHTSA should issue an accelerated remedy 
directive to Takata and/or some (or all) Manufacturers, (3) whether, 
and how, NHTSA should order Takata and/or Manufacturers to prioritize 
certain

[[Page 32200]]

vehicles or certain regions in its allocation of replacement parts, (4) 
whether, and how, NHTSA should order a replacement schedule for 
replacement frontal inflators/air bags if Takata and/or Manufacturers 
cannot provide assurances for the ongoing safety of the inflators, and 
(5) whether, and how, NHTSA should order additional authorized repair 
facilities, or any other regulated entity, to aid Takata and/or 
Manufacturers in timely completing remedy programs.

    Authority: 49 U.S.C. 30101, et seq., 30118-30120, 30120(c)(3), 
30166(b)(1), 30166(g)(1); 49 CFR 573.6, 573.14; delegations of 
authority at 49 CFR 1.95(a), 501.2(a)(1).

    Issued: June 1, 2015.
Mark R. Rosekind,
Administrator.
[FR Doc. 2015-13756 Filed 6-4-15; 8:45 am]
 BILLING CODE 4910-59-P

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