The settlement covers about 15.8 million vehicles, but it does not cover lawsuits for personal injury, wrongful death or property damage. Instead, the four auto-makers will compensate economic-loss claims, provide loaner vehicles, and pay owners up to $500 with leftover funds.
They will also set up outreach programs to get consumers to replace the airbags. As of April 28, the replacement-rate on the defective vehicles ranges from a high of 32% for Toyota to a low of 16.5% for BMW.
In exchange, the auto-makers will be allowed to exit the federal Multi-District Litigation (MDL) over the largest auto recall in U.S. history. Here is a breakdown of the settlement numbers and vehicles:
- BMW will pay $131 million (2.3 million vehicles)
- Subaru will pay $68.3 million (2.6 million vehicles)
- Mazda will pay $75.8 million (1.7 million vehicles)
- Toyota will pay $278.5 million (9.2 million vehicles)
Takata airbag inflators have been linked to at least 17 deaths and more than 180 injuries worldwide. The inflators contain ammonium nitrate, a cheap fertilizer and highly explosive chemical.
The problem is that Takata used pure ammonium nitrate without a chemical drying agent to stabilize it. The chemical destabilizes as it is exposed to temperature changes and humidity. Over time, the risk increases of the airbag exploding so violently that it shoots out metal shrapnel. Over 100 million vehicles worldwide have been recalled.
Takata also reached a $1 billion settlement with the U.S. The settlement included a $25 million criminal fine for concealing the risk of airbag explosions and $125 million in restitution for injuries.
The lawsuits are pending in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida — In RE: Takata Airbag Products Liability Litigation — Case No. 1:15-md-02599.