Home / Auto News / News article: Toyota Complies With $16.4 Million NHTSA Fine, But Denies Wrongdoing - AutoGuide.com News
 |  Apr 19 2010, 4:15 PM

2008_Gold_LEED_Certified_Rockwall_Toyota_Dealership_-_002.jpg

As reported earlier today, Toyota has now officially announced it will comply with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s civil fine of $16.4 million for not issuing a recall within an acceptable timeframe. The recall in question focused on 2.3 million vehicles for sticking accelerator pedals.

In a statement the Japanese automaker accepted the fine, but not the terms behind it, stating that it does not believe it violated the Safety Act. “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 says it agreed to the fine to avoid further litigation but also to move beyond the issue and focus on improving quality. “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.”

While the $16.4 million fine isn’t much for an automaker, the negative public perception generated by it can be much more significant. Toyota now seems to be quick to issue recalls and vehicles needing to be recalled don’t appear to be lacking with an announcement late last week of a recall for the Sienna minivan and just today for the Lexus GX460.

Official release after the jump:

PRESS RELEASE

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.”