Perhaps a light at the end of the tunnel of Toyota’s accelerator pedal recall – the U.S. National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration has imposed a $16.4 million fine on the Japanese automaker for failing to notify government officials of the accelerator issues in a timely fashion.
Rather than appeal the NHTSA decision, Toyota decided to pay the fine in an attempt to put the matter behind them. The $16.4 million fine represents less than 2% of the company’s income in 2009.
In an emailed statement to Bloomberg, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood says “Toyota has accepted responsibility for violating its legal obligations to report any defects promptly.”
Regulations stipulate that an automaker has 5 business days to notify the government of any potential safety defects.
“We agreed to this settlement in order to avoid a protracted dispute and possible litigation,” Toyota said in a Monday statement, “as well as to allow us to move forward fully-focused on the steps to deliver our quality assurance operations.
Without the statute limiting the NHTSA fine to $16.4 million, the automaker could have been subject to much larger fines. The agency is capable of fining Toyota $6000 for each vehicle – with 2.3 million cars involved in the recall that could have amounted to over $13.8 billion in fines!
The NHTSA says it’s still investigating additional penalties involving the accelerator pedal issue since, according to the agency, it had “two separate defects that may require two separate remedies.”