Today, the largest civil penalty every imposed against an auto maker was announced.
The Transportation Department plans to fine Toyota Motor Corp $16.4 million for allegedly hiding a defective gas-pedal problem from NHTSA and the DOT. The fine is the largest allowed under law.
The Transportation Department says Toyota filed to notify regulators after it knew about the problem in September, but did not issue a recall until January. Auto makers are required under law to notify regulators within five business days of the time they know they have a problem.
Toyota can contest the fine or accept it.
"We now have proof that Toyota failed to live up to its legal obligations," Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said in a statement reported by the Wall Street Journal.
"Worse yet, they knowingly hid a dangerous defect for months from U.S. officials and did not take action to protect millions of drivers and their families. For those reasons, we are seeking the maximum penalty possible under current laws."
Sticky Pedal Problem
The “sticky pedal” problem eventually led to the recall of 2.3 million Toyota vehicles in the U.S. in January. Sticky pedal is thought be responsible for the sudden acceleration problem that has caused at least 100 deaths.
More than six million Toyota vehicles have been recalled in the U.S. and more than 8 million worldwide and additional fines are being considered.
A number of accident cases are now being revisited since Toyota announced its worldwide recall of 10 million vehicles because of sudden acceleration.
The Toyota You Don’t Know
The Los Angeles Times reports that six Toyota workers had come forward sending a memo to senior management about taking shortcuts in safety and manpower at the detriment of the company.
The National Labor Committee, a human rights group, released a 65-page report in 2008 titled, “The Toyota You Don’t Know” about sweatshop abuses, overworked and uncompensated workers, and secretive business practices, including secret recalls. Many predicted in the report that Toyota will face criminal charges for hiding defects so long and refusing to correct them. #