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 |  Mar 22 2012, 6:31 PM

Part of a two-year highway reauthorization bill is ruffling feathers among some of the world’s top auto manufacturers because it could allow for massively increased fines.

The provision in question would raise the amount of money an automaker may be fined for failing to properly recall problematic vehicles. As it stands, the maximum fine is $17 million. If passed, that number could grow to $250 million, something the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers (which represents the big three, Toyota and several others) says is disproportionate and unfairly punitive.

While a $233 million dollar increase in fining capacity is inarguably a huge jump, it raises the question: what defines an improperly performed recall?

We’re not on the short list to be making those judgement calls, but there are a few egregious incidents that might justify such a serious penalty.

It wasn’t so long ago that people discovered, much to their horror, that their Toyota may experience unintended acceleration. Bad as that was, things got worse when the company tried to find excuses rather than addressing the issue head-on.

Toyota isn’t the only culprit in recent history. Ford is currently being sued for allegedly selling F-150 trucks and E series vans with faulty fuel tanks over the past decade. In this incident it seems Ford might have known about the defect and done nothing to fix it.

Incidents like this aren’t an every day occurrence but maybe automakers would be mor readily inclined to deal with those issues if stiffer penalties were in place.

[Source: The Detroit News]