The National Highways Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) announced today Toyota will pay a $17.35 million fine after allegedly failing to report a safety defect within the maximum five business day window.
In early 2012, the NHTSA noticed a trend that floor mats were entrapping pedals in 2010 Lexus RX 350s.
When it contacted Toyota in May, the automaker said it was aware of 63 alleged instances of pedal entrapment, which in some cases caused unintended acceleration.
Toyota later recalled more than 150,000 2010 Lexus RX 350 and 2010 RX 450h models to address the problem.
The $17.35 million fine, the maximum allowed under law, was agreed to by the NHTSA and Toyota yesterday.
The signed agreement notes "Toyota denies that it has violated the Safety Act or its implementing regulations."
Under the agreement, Toyota will revise its product quality analytics and meet with the NHTSA once a month for six months to report on mat pedal entrapment issues. Toyota is still subject to potential civil and criminal liabilities, apart from the penalty for failing to report defect information in a timely manner.
Toyota will pay the fine to the U.S. Treasury in one lump sum within 30 days. The fine is the largest civil penalty ever paid to the NHTSA for violations related to a product recall.
In a statement, Toyota reaffirmed it has agreed to pay the $17.35 million without admitting to any violation. Chief quality officer of Toyota North America said:
Toyota is dedicated to the safety of our customers, and we continue to strengthen our data collection and evaluation process to ensure we are prepared to take swift action to meet customers' needs. We agreed to this settlement in order to avoid a time-consuming dispute and to focus fully on our shared commitment with NHTSA to keep drivers safe.
Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said, "With today's announcement, I expect Toyota to rigorously reinforce its commitment to adhering to United states safety regulations."
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