• Apr 19th 2010 at 10:33AM
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Just yesterday, we told you that Toyota was reportedly set to pay the full $16.4 million fine to the U.S. government, so long as the automaker would not be required to admit any wrongdoing. Well, the 'T's have been crossed, the 'I's have been dotted, and the official statements have been released. The largest civil fine ever issued to an automaker by the U.S. government will be paid by way of electronic funds transfer, and will take place within the next 30 days. For what it's worth, The Detroit News reports that if the $16.4 million maximum cap on fines didn't exist, it could have charged $6,000 per vehicle – that's $13.8 billion. Ouch.

As part of that process, Toyota now openly admits that it could have (and should have) done a better job of sharing relevant information, and it welcomes "a new, more transparent chapter" in its relationship with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Additionally, the automaker has outlined a few of its next steps, citing that a new Chief Quality Officer has been appointed for North America and that it has strengthened its information-gathering capabilities in an effort to investigate potential problems with quicker response times. Still, Toyota denies that it withheld any pertinent information from NHTSA, saying, "We did not try to hide a defect to avoid dealing with a safety problem."

In response, U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood has issued the following statement regarding Toyota's decision:
By failing to report known safety problems as it is required to do under the law, Toyota put consumers at risk. I am pleased that Toyota has accepted responsibility for violating its legal obligations to report any defects promptly. We are continuing to investigate whether the company has lived up to all its disclosure obligations.
The U.S. House of Representatives oversight panel plans to hold another hearing on May 6 to further investigate Toyota's conduct. What's more, remember that Toyota could be in more hot water regarding the ongoing investigation regarding the Lexus GX460 SUV, and there are still lingering questions about possible electronic gremlins in Toyota throttles to contend with. Still, it's good to see that an initial resolution has been reached between Toyota and NHTSA on this matter, though it is still possible that further fines will follow. Hit the jump to read the automaker's official release, as well as a statement from the U.S. Department of Transportation.

[Sources: Toyota, NHTSA, The Detroit News | Image: Ramin Talaie/Getty]
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Toyota Motor Corporation Agrees to Settle NHTSA Civil Penalty

Toyota Motor Corporation (TMC) announced today that it has agreed to settle the civil penalty demanded in the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's April 5 letter related to the company's recall for slow-to-return and sticky accelerator pedals by paying $16.4 million. The company said:

"We agreed to this settlement 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. This will allow us to focus on delivering safe, reliable, high quality vehicles for our customers and responding to consumer feedback with honesty and integrity. These have been core Toyota values for 70 years, and we pledge to make an even greater effort to adhere to this philosophy now and in the future. We also welcome a new, more transparent chapter in our relationship with NHTSA, consistent with our commitments to Congress and the American people.

"We regret that NHTSA tentatively concluded that they should seek a civil penalty. Toyota denies NHTSA's allegation that it violated the Safety Act or its implementing regulations.

"We believe we made a good faith effort to investigate this condition and develop an appropriate counter-measure. 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 is already moving ahead with a number of important steps to strengthen our quality assurance operations and enhance our ability to meet customer expectations.

* We have strengthened our information-gathering capabilities to respond more quickly to customer concerns and investigate potential quality issues more aggressively.
* We've appointed a new Chief Quality Officer for North America, enlisted the help of respected independent experts to ensure our quality assurance processes are robust and given the region a bigger role in decision-making on safety issues for North America.
* Our dealers continue to make extraordinary efforts to repair recalled vehicles as quickly and conveniently as possible for our customers.

"We are proud of the vehicles that Toyota produces and are confident they are among the safest on the road. As our actions since this recall was announced underscore, we are intensely focused on listening even more carefully to our customers and addressing any issues that emerge without delay. All of us at Toyota are grateful for our customers' continued support, and we are determined to continue earning their trust."

Statement from U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood on Toyota's Agreement to Pay Maximum Civil Penalty

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood today made the following statement after Toyota Motor Corporation agreed to pay a $16.375 million fine – the largest fine permitted by law – for failing to notify the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) of a dangerous pedal defect for almost four months: "By failing to report known safety problems as it is required to do under the law, Toyota put consumers at risk," said Secretary LaHood. "I am pleased that Toyota has accepted responsibility for violating its legal obligations to report any defects promptly. We are continuing to investigate whether the company has lived up to all its disclosure obligations." The $16.375 million fine for Toyota is the largest civil penalty ever assessed against an auto manufacturer by NHTSA. This penalty relates specifically to both the "sticky pedal" and "slow to return pedal" defects, which resulted in Toyota's recall of approximately 2.3 million vehicles in the U.S. in late January. On February 16, NHTSA launched an investigation into the timeliness and scope of the three recent Toyota recalls and required the automaker to turn over documents and explanations related to its adherence to U.S. auto safety laws. NHTSA officials are continuing to review Toyota's statements and more than 120,000 pages of Toyota documents to determine whether the company has complied with all its legal obligations. NHTSA has the most active defect investigation program in the world, opening or closing an investigation almost every week. Over the last three years, NHTSA's defect and compliance investigations have resulted in 524 recalls involving 23.5 million vehicles.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 5 Years Ago
      isn't this legal corruption i mean 16.4 m to forget it ..
      viva mexico
      • 5 Years Ago
      Most criminals will make the claim of no wrong doing.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I think Toyota is a crock of sh--t, My husband and I have been batteling with them for a year this July. We have a 2002 Tundra, the frame is rusted though and through in 3 places. They have yet to make a decision on this, and then they have all this other stuff go wrong with the cars. We got shoved to the back burner and now are still stuck paying for a truck we can't drive. DON"T BUY TOYOTA!
      Big Jim Crimeboss
      • 5 Years Ago
      Too bad not too many American vehicles make it abroad, otherwise, Toyota could have turned the gun on GM and asked for $16.4 million!! We'll see, I thought we learned after WW2 . . .
      • 5 Years Ago
      Toyotas are pretty good cars but not the perfect cars that marketing touted. How weak minded do people have to be to buy into that kind of advertising? What was it, a mixture of snobbism and/or hatred of American workers,what?? We had to go through that whole I hate unions stuff and the union workers only make junk..and hey none of that really had to do with cars did it. I have a Toyota and I like it and have no had trouble with it. I was going to buy a Tacoma a few years ago but the entire line was being recalled...no check that not recalled they were all purchased back by Toyota becuase of frame problems. This is not Toyotas first rodeo you know. Whenver someone starts that foreign car chant I just chalk it up to one more idiot who is a sucker for advertisng. No wonder we have religious and political cults in this country, people are easily led by advertising and political spinners.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Gotta love the conspiracy theorists. Toyota got caught with a smoking gun, gets off lucky, lies, and now accepts their fate and throngs of followers cling to the fact that they are in fact being abused.
      • 5 Years Ago
        • 5 Years Ago
        You do realize there's a reason why they don't buy our cars right? It's competition, why would I buy a car from my rival? I will also stand by when I say this and that is our automakers don't aspire to build vehicles, they make them and say, "Umm it's good enough" and send it off the production line. Until then, let people buy what THEY want, freely. That means a car that will last you and prove to be fun. Not to say that Toyotas ARE fun, but...
        • 5 Years Ago
        James - you commented that the US market should stop buying Japanese cars.

        Have a think about this twit ... how about the rest of the global community stop buying cars from GM, Ford and Chrysler !!

        What do you think will happen to the American car companies then ... typical ignorance.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Im tired of this.....leave Toyota alone. Let them pay what they have to and leave them to work on building us great cars again.

        • 5 Years Ago

        Most of the people here actually enjoy driving. Toyota doesn't make much for those people.
        • 5 Years Ago
        If you want us to leave Toyota alone then Toyota should stop shooting themselves in the foot. I could care less about the recalls because all the manufacturers have recalls. It's the lies and coverups and the later bragging about saving millions by not recalling vehicles that makes me dislike Toyota (the boring lineup adds to it too).
        • 5 Years Ago
        Depends on your definition of great. I currently own a 1999 Camry. It's realiable, but it has about as much soul as my dishwasher. For that, I would call it a good car, not great. In fact, I've never driven a Toyota that I would call great. I'm sure a few great Toyota's have existed in the past, but I really don't see any in their current line-up.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Dont worry about the people here Hey Babes....their anti Toyota.

        • 5 Years Ago
        Your ignorant if you believe Toyota hasn't built great cars. The numbers dont lie. I owned a few Toyotas along with other cars and the Toyotas I had never left me on the road side.

        So I dont really care if you think Toyota hasn't built great cars because In my owning them...they have been great to me.
        • 5 Years Ago
        What do you mean, "again"?
      Jerome Smith
      • 5 Years Ago
      ask any group of software engineers who are familiar with the Toyota problem and I will bet 90% will say it is in the software.Drop a bit or two and you may have the car speed up and no control.It is a problem that can never be solved without wruting new software and installing it in every Toyota....true or false?
        • 5 Years Ago
        @Jerome Smith
        Maybe. Ask any floor mat manufacturer who is familiar with the Toyota problem and I will bet 90% will say it's the floor mats. It's not like no one is looking at the software, but nothing has been found, so it's all speculation at this point. Everyone always knows better than the evil corporation and/or the big bad gov't, but the proof will be in the stats.

        Here's how I see it:

        If, after Toyota has claimed to have fixed all the outstanding issues with Toyotas on the road today, their cars still have a rate of unintended acceleration claims that are significantly higher than other manufacturers whose models compete in the same buyer demographic (VERY important), we'll know more investigation/study is needed. Size/shape of the foot well and/or pedals? Software? Other? We won't know until more data rolls in, but to overlook the normal rate of driver error and expect no claims of unintended acceleration to continue is naive.
      • 5 Years Ago
      We have all seen the little race cars with Remotes,well that is what Toyota did .The Gas and the Brake peddles are nothing more then remote control devices,They can be removed and a hand device used to do the same thing .
      • 5 Years Ago
      Regardless of being the highest civil fine on an automaker in the U.S., $16.4m is still chump change for a corp like Toyota. My guess is the gov wants to get this situation behind them as quickly as Toyota does, so they found a number that Toyota would agree with without dragging this any further.
        • 5 Years Ago
        I could be wrong but I remembering read somewhere Toyota has a Trillion dollars.....
      • 5 Years Ago
      It's so great to hear that this money will go straight to the victims of the unintended acceleration incidents. What's that?... It won't?


      But I'll bet LaHood gets a pay raise.
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