4 automakers agree to $553M settlement of Takata airbag claims

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Four automakers agreed to a $553 million settlement to address class-action economic loss claims covering owners of nearly 16 million vehicles with potentially defective Takata airbag inflators, according to court documents filed on Thursday.

Toyota's share of the settlement costs is $278.5 million, followed by BMW at $131 million, Mazda at $76 million and Subaru at $68 million. According to a press release from Plaintiffs' Committee for Takata Airbag Product Liability Litigation, the funds for the settlement are aimed at getting more cars with faulty airbags fixed. At the time of writing, Toyota had the greatest recall completion percentage of 31.89 percent followed by Subaru with 31.37 percent. Mazda has completed repairs on 18.16 percent of affected cars, and BMW brings up the rear with 16.48 percent completion.

Some settlement funds will go to an outreach campaign to increase awareness, while other funds will be used to reimburse people for any costs accrued to get their cars fixed. These costs can include rental cars, child care, lost wages, or any other reasonable costs associated with bringing in a vehicle for repairs. Furthermore, a customer support program will be funded with settlement money to handle any additional repairs or adjustments that could become necessary in the 75,000 miles following the airbag replacement.

Lawsuits against Honda, Ford and Nissan have not been settled, lawyers said.

Takata inflators, which can explode with excessive force and unleash metal shrapnel inside cars and trucks, are blamed for at least 16 deaths and more than 180 injuries worldwide. The safety defect has prompted recalls worldwide of about 100 million inflators by more than a dozen major automakers.

Reporting by David Shepardson, additional details by Autoblog's Joel Stocksdale

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