After nearly a year of major recalls, odd terminology, a congressional hearing and possible hoaxes, Toyota
Corp., has arguably received the most difficult jolt of its current crisis. The Department of Transportation’s National
Safety Administration (NHTSA) is seeking the maximum civil fine of $16.4 million against the Japanese automaker.
According to documents obtained from Toyota, NHTSA detailed in a press release the automaker knew some of its cars had sticky accelerator pedals since September 2009 and failed to notify the agency for more than four months.
Under federal regulations, automakers are required to inform the agency within five days of determining a safety defect exists in one of its products.
“We now have proof that Toyota failed to live up to its legal obligations,” said Secretary LaHood. “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.”
NHTSA is still investigating to see if Toyota committed any additional violations that may warrant more penalties, the agency said. Under federal regulations, $16.4 million is the most an automaker can be fined for a single violation.
Several Toyota brands, Camry to Prius, Corolla to Lexus, have been recalled with the total surpassing eight million units world wide. The problems have included ” “sticky
pedal,” “floormat infringement” and “unitended acceleration.”