In hopefully the ending salvo to a long, drawn out drama, the U.S. National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA) fined Toyota $16.4 million for failing to notify federal regulators within the required time frame of problems with sticking gas pedals.
Instead of appealing the decision – which is well within their right – the company opted to pay the fine in an attempt to put the matter behind them. The $16.4 million amount represents slightly less than 2% of the company’s income in 2009.
“Toyota has accepted responsibility for violating its legal obligations to report any defects promptly,” stated Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood in an emailed statement to Bloomberg.
Regulations stipulate that an automaker has 5 days to report safety defects to the proper government agency.
“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.
The fine of $16.4 million represents the maximum fine the government could levy. Without the statute limiting what the NHTSA could charge, the Japanese automaker could have been subject to much larger fines – specifically, $6000 per defective vehicle. That would have amounted to $13.8 billion in fines!
According to the NHTSA, since there may be “two separate defects that may require two separate remedies,” the agency is continuing its investigations.