Toyota agrees to pay record $16.4m fine
Japanese automaker Toyota will pay 16.4 million dollars to the US government for concealing gas pedal defects. Toyota continues to deny that it violated the US Safety Act.
AFP - Toyota said Monday it will pay a record 16.4 million dollar fine for concealing gas pedal defects as the US government cautioned that it is not done investigating the Japanese automaker.
"By failing to report known safety problems as it is required to do under the law, Toyota put consumers at risk," said Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood in a statement.
"I am pleased that Toyota has accepted responsibility for violating its legal obligations to report any defects promptly."
Toyota failed to disclose the 'sticky pedal' defect for at least four months despite knowing of the potential risk to consumers, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) said.
Under federal law, automakers are required to disclose defects within five business days.
Toyota said in a statement that it "denies NHTSA's allegation that it violated the Safety Act or its implementing regulations" and regrets that the agency chose to levy a fine.
"We believe we made a good faith effort to investigate this condition and develop an appropriate counter-measure," the world's largest automaker said in a statement.
"We have acknowledged that we could have done a better job of sharing relevant information within our global operations and outside the company, but we did not try to hide a defect to avoid dealing with a safety problem."
Toyota said it agreed to pay the 16.4 million dollar fine "in order to avoid a protracted dispute and possible litigation, as well as to allow us to move forward fully-focused on the steps to strengthen our quality assurance operations."
It is the largest civil fine against an automaker ever sought by the US authorities and comes after Toyota recalled more than eight million vehicles worldwide due to a series of problems with brakes and accelerators.
The fine relates to defects which affected 2.3 million vehicles recalled in the United States in January.
"We are continuing to investigate whether the company has lived up to all its disclosure obligations," LaHood said.