Volkswagen AG did not inform the U.S. National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) database about at least one death and three injuries involving its cars, Bloomberg reported Monday. Automakers, by law, need to report all claims of possible vehicle defects within 30 days of the end of the quarter to the NHTSA database, which saves lives by identifying possible defects.
Bloomberg examined 13 random lawsuits faced by Volkswagen in the past 11 years and found that the German automaker reported nine of them to NHTSA. The business news site did not find four other suits on NHTSA records, of which one was related to a fatality. The fatal incident involved a 2000 Beetle and occurred in Portland, Oregon, in January 2008, Bloomberg reported. The lawsuit claimed that the side air bags did not set out, however, the company denied the allegation and the case was dismissed.
Volkswagen, which found itself in the center of a massive emissions scandal in September, said last Tuesday that it will call for an outside audit of its compliance with U.S. safety-reporting laws. Volkswagen was inspecting its process of reporting lawsuits to the regulatory database as part of the overall audit, Jeannine Ginivan, a Herndon, Virginia-based spokeswoman told Bloomberg.
“You have to give the consumer enough of the facts to put the pieces together,” Rebecca Lindland, senior director of commercial insights for Kelley Blue Book, a vehicle-data provider, told Bloomberg. “If you underreport on safety, then you’re talking about actually taking people’s lives in your hands. There’s a need for transparency whether it’s good, bad or ugly.”