Toyota Charged with Hiding Defect and Would Be Fined $16M

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The government on Monday charged Toyota Motor Corporation with hiding “dangerous defect” and said that the company would have to face with a $16.4 million fine for its failure in quickly alerting regulators to safety problems in gas pedals on popular models such as the Camry and Corolla.


The fine proposed by Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood is the highest one that government could charge for the sticking gas pedals. Because of this problem, the world’s biggest motor company recalled its millions of vehicles. The company may have to face with heavier penalties when the federal government finishes its investigations. The Japanese automaker faces private lawsuits seeking many millions more.


Some months ago, Toyota made two recalls to more than 6 million vehicles in the U.S, and more than 8 million worldwide after there was unintended accelerations and braking problems happening among its models.


According to Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, Toyota did not notice customers and recalled its vehicle owners until late January though the company had learned about gas pedal problems. On January 21, the company recalled its 2.3 million vehicles in the United States announcing that vehicle owners should fix their gas pedals with mechanical problems which made their cars stuck.


Therefore, the government would apply a #16.375 million fine on the Japanese automaker for its effort in hiding defect.


The proposed fine would put Toyota in dilemma on whether to pay the fine or not. If the company agrees to pay, the admission could hurt it in courtrooms. But if Toyota fights against the government, it means that the company did not try its effort to move on from the recall. Toyota did not reveal its intention toward the proposed fine and will have to decide whether to accept or battle the penalty in the next two weeks.


The company told the NHTSA that it had taken important steps to improve its communications with regulators and customers on safety-related matters as part of strengthened overall commitment to quality assurance.


Under federal law, automakers must notify NHTSA within five days of determining that a safety defect exists and promptly conduct a recall.


Unwanted acceleration in Toyota vehicles was proved to cause 52 deaths to crashes. After making recalls, the company had to face with congressional hearings, a criminal investigation by federal prosecutors, dozens of lawsuits and an intense review by the Transportation Department.


Though customers have suggested electrics could be the culprit for the problem, Toyota said no evidence of electrical problem was found and blame the matter for sticking gas pedals and floor mats.


After the recalls, drivers of Toyota vehicles continued to send the NHTSA complaints saying that repairs for gas problems of the company did not work.

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By KEN THOMAS has 1 articles online

Ken Thomas is writer of the Associated Press. He often writes news about vehicles. He has had a series about Toyota and acceleration problems among this company’s vehicles.

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Toyota Charged with Hiding Defect and Would Be Fined $16M

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This article was published on 2010/04/06