In June, Toyota recalled the 2010 Lexus RX 350 and 450h SUVs because the floor mat could get caught under the accelerator pedal and cause the vehicle to accelerate unintentionally. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said that Toyota recalled those vehicles too late and is fining Toyota a record $17.35 million.
According to federal law, automakers must “notify NHTSA within five business days of determining that a safety defect exists or that the vehicle is not in compliance with federal motor vehicle safety standards and to promptly conduct a recall,” says NHTSA in a release.
NHTSA says Toyota took longer than five days. The Office of Defects Investigation noticed problems with the floor mat and accelerator pedal in early 2012 and contacted Toyota in May. Toyota recalled the vehicles about a month later, telling NHTSA it knew of 63 circumstances of accelerator pedals becoming tangled in the floor mat.
Toyota has issued a press release, agreeing to the fine, but is not “admitting to any violation of its obligations under the U.S. Safety Act.”
“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,” says Chief Quality Officer Ray Tanguay. “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.”
This is the fourth time NHTSA has fined Toyota and the fourth time the company “did not admit any wrongdoing and said it was paying the fine to avoid a continued dispute with the safety agency,” writes The New York Times. The other fines totaled $48.8 million.
The latest fine follows several major recalls from the automaker this year, which includes 2.5 million U.S. models the automaker recalled in October.
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