US may pursue 2nd fine against Toyota

08:51, April 12, 2010      

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US safety regulators are considering a second penalty against Toyota for knowingly delaying a massive recall over defective accelerator pedals, after imposing a record $16.4 million fine against the automaker last Monday.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) may pursue a second fine based on documents submitted by Toyota, which indicated there were two separate defects in the recalled pedals.

Toyota's recall of 2.3 million vehicles in January for faulty accelerator pedals came at least four months after the automaker had determined there were safety defects in the vehicles, NHTSA said in an April 5 letter to Toyota.

Toyota's own records showed that it had issued repair notices for the sticky pedal problem in Canada and Europe in September but did not take action in the US market until January, US safety regulators said in proposing the record fine against Toyota last Monday.

Automakers are legally obligated to tell US safety regulators within five days if they determine a safety defect exists.

"Here, the gravity of Toyota's apparent violations is severe and potentially life-threatening," NHTSA Chief Counsel O. Kevin Vincent said in the letter.

He explained that US law allowed a $6,000 penalty for each defective vehicle sold by Toyota, adding up to $13.8 billion.

Due to a law that limits individual fines against a manufacturer, the maximum the government could seek was $16.37 million.

"If Toyota will not agree to pay the demanded penalty, NHTSA will refer this matter to the US Department of Justice with the recommendation that the Attorney General commence a civil action in federal court," he added.

Previously, the largest fine was $1 million against General Motors for failing to promptly recall windshield wipers in 2002-2003 model vehicles.

Source: Global Times


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