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Honda Motor units to pay $85 million to settle U.S. states' probe over Takata air bags

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Units of Honda Motor Co 7267.T have agreed to pay $85 million to settle an investigation by most U.S. states into its use of defective Takata airbag inflators in its vehicles, according to a consent order made public on Tuesday.

FILE PHOTO: Honda's logo on its Modulo model is pictured at its showroom at its headquarters in Tokyo, Japan, February 19, 2019. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-hoon

The state probes are connected with the ongoing recalls of tens of millions of vehicles equipped with potentially defective Takata inflators that were sold by Honda and other major auto manufacturers over the past 20 years.

To date, more than 40 million U.S. vehicles equipped with 60 million defective Takata air bags have been recalled because the inflators can explode when deployed, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. At least 25 deaths around the world and nearly 300 injuries have been linked to faulty Takata inflators.

Worldwide, the Takata recalls cover about 100 million inflators among 19 major automakers, including Honda.

In January, Honda said it would recall an additional 2.7 million older U.S. vehicles in North America for potentially defective Takata inflators. That recall covers Honda and Acura automobiles from the 1996 through 2003 model years.

Honda said it was aware of one field rupture of an inflator in the new recall campaign - a 2012 crash in Texas that resulted in an injury - and two in junk yards in Japan.

In the settlement announced Tuesday, American Honda Motor Co and Honda of America agreed to upgrade their product safety procedures related to frontal airbags, including to reduce the risk that their inflators could rupture.

The Honda affiliates agreed to the consent order without admitting wrongdoing and to avoid the cost of further litigation, the automaker said. Court approval is required.

Honda confirmed it had reached civil settlements with 46 U.S. states, Washington, D.C. and three U.S. territories over the matter.

Since 2008, Honda has recalled nearly 13 million U.S. vehicles equipped with Takata inflators, and has replaced more than 16 million inflators.

A multistate group of attorneys general had been investigating Honda’s use of Takata airbags since December 2015, according to the consent order.

Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York and Paul Lienert in Detroit; Editing by Steve Orlofsky and Bernadette Baum

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