Toyota Paying $32.4 Million More in DOT Fines

The added amount raises its civil penalties this year from two investigations to $48.8 million.

DOT and Toyota announced that the automaker is paying another $32.4 million in civil fines related to two 2010 investigations by the department. These were the maximum fines allowed by law for the investigations, which involved accelerator pedals that could be trapped by floor mats and a steering rod defect that jeopardized steering control in some models and may not have been disclosed in a timely was to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Toyota, which has not admitted wrongdoing in the matters, agreed in April 2010 to pay $16.4 million in response to DOT's assertion that it failed to notify NHTSA within five days of learning of the "sticky pedal" defect. Total civil penalties in 2010 thus amount to $48.8 million.

"Safety is our top priority, and we take our responsibility to protect consumers seriously," Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said Monday. "I am pleased that Toyota agreed to pay the maximum possible penalty, and I expect Toyota to work cooperatively in the future to ensure consumers' safety."

A statement posted on Toyota's website quoted Steve St. Angelo, Toyota's chief quality officer for North America, saying: "Toyota is pleased to have resolved these legacy issues related to the timeliness of prior recalls dating back to 2005. All 30,000 of our U.S. team members, and the tens of thousands of Americans at dealers and suppliers across the country, have worked very hard over the past year to put these issues behind us and set a new standard of responsiveness to our customers. These agreements are an opportunity to turn the page to an even more constructive relationship with NHTSA and focus even more on listening to our customers and meeting their high expectations for safe and reliable vehicles.

"As we have demonstrated in recent months, our North American operations now have a greater voice in making safety decisions, and we are taking appropriate action whenever any issues emerge. We've substantially strengthened our ability to investigate customer concerns through our rapid-response SMART evaluation process and other measures. And, we are continuing to equip our vehicles with advanced features, including our Star Safety System and Smart Stop Technology, both of which are standard on all new models sold in the U.S."

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