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Toyota Faces $16.375 Million Fine

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The Department of Transportation is seeking the maximum penalty allowed by law from Toyota for failing to promptly notify the government about defective gas pedals.

The $16.375 million fine would be the largest civil penalty ever issued to an automaker by the government. Toyota has two weeks to contest the penalty.

“We now have proof that Toyota failed to live up to its legal obligations,” Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said in a statement. “Worse yet, they knowingly hid a dangerous defect for months from U.S. officials and did not take action to protect millions of drivers and their families. For those reasons, we are seeking the maximum penalty possible under current laws.”

Auto manufacturers are legally obligated to notify the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) within five business days if they determine that a safety defect exists.

According to the Department of Transportation , the NHTSA learned through documents obtained from Toyota that the company knew of the sticky pedal defect since at least September 29, 2009. That day, Toyota issued repair procedures to their distributors in 31 European countries and Canada to address complaints of sticky accelerator pedals, sudden increases in engine RPM, and sudden vehicle acceleration. The documents also show that Toyota was aware that consumers in the U.S. were experiencing the same problems, the statement said.

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