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Auto Industry Continues to Face Tough Road Over Product Defects

"I find it troubling," Sen. Claire McCaskill said, "but more importantly I am sad that I am not surprised, that we find ourselves examining another example of manufacturers' failure to fulfill safety obligations that could have saved lives."

According to this Reuters report, 10 million cars equipped with defective Takata airbags - which can spray drivers and passengers with shrapnel in crashes - have been recalled in the U.S. over the past six years. Now, the airbag manufacturer (and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) is facing heat from a U.S. Senate inquiry into the problem.

It's hard to mention Takata airbags without also mentioning the other problems that have plagued the auto industry in recent years, such as General Motors' defective ignition switches.

The New GM's Persistent Legal Woes

Exploding Takata airbags are thought to be responsible for six deaths, according to Reuters, while Car & Driver reports 139 injuries across all automakers (the airbag problem seems to have affected primarily Honda, with more than five million Honda vehicles recalled).

But exploding airbags aren't the only problem.

The "New GM," as the automaker came to be known after its 2009 bankruptcy, is very likely what Sen. McCaskill was thinking about when she referred to manufacturers' failure to fulfill safety obligations. In recent weeks, the media have reported extensively about what appears to be a cover-up involving defective ignition switches installed in thousands of GM vehicles, like the Chevrolet Cobalt.

GM's latest legal woe? The attorney general of Arizona, who filed suit against the automaker this week on Wednesday, which made Arizona the first state to sue GM for delayed recalls, according to Reuters.

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