Toyota will pay record fine - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

Toyota will pay record fine

WASHINGTON (ABC)--  Consumers get some justice this morning: Toyota will pay a record fine, the maximum allowed, for failing to come clean about gas pedal problems.  They'll pay up, rather than go to court.

According to the federal government, Toyota knew about the problem of sudden acceleration and sticky pedals by September of 2009, but it waited until January of 2010 to tell regulators. 

On Monday, the auto giant will agree to pay a $16.4 million fine, the maximum civil penalty allowed.

Joan Claybrook, Former Head of the NHTSA, says, "I think this is another black eye for Toyota because it shows that the company didn't care about safety, that it covered up the issue in the United  States."

While Toyota is likely to say they admit no wrong doing, according to a Senior Transportation Official, "By paying the full civil penalty, Toyota is accepting responsibility for hiding this safety defect from NHTSA in violation of the law."

Jessica Caldwell, Senior Analyst for, says, "Toyota once was considered invincible brand. And clearly they've taken a fall here and so I think a lot of other automakers are going to pay a lot more attention to any issues that come up."

The company has recalled six million vehicles in all, including the sticky pedal problem and for problems with floor mats trapping the accelerator pedal, which is blamed for at least five deaths and 17 injuries.  

In February, Toyota's Chief Executive testified before Congress.  He insisted the company had not tried to hide anything.  Akio Toyoda, Toyota's President said on February 24, 2010, "In the name of the company, its long-standing tradition and pride, we never  run away from our problems or pretend we don't notice them."

According to a letter from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to Toyota, a second fine may be assessed, based on documents that show the company knew of two separate defects related to acceleration. 

Caldwell says, "NHTSA's gone on record saying they wish they could fine Toyota more."

In face, federal officials say they would have levied a fine of nearly $14 billion, had it been allowed. 

Online Reporter: Jill Courtney

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