Toyota has agreed to pay the $16.4 million fine issued to them by the NHTSA recently, but still denies any wrongdoing, stating that they paid the fine to simply avoid any more problems.
It said in the press release that “We agreed to this settlement in order to avoid a protracted dispute and possible litigation, as well as to allow us to move forward fully-focused on the steps to strengthen our quality assurance operations.” Most media outlets are greeting this decision with skepticism, but I personally understand their decision. Disputing the decision could end up costing them more money, whether or not they’re actually guilty of delaying the recalls.
Toyota admits some problems in the communication of the unintended acceleration issues throughout the company, but denies any delay in recalling affected cars.
This is far from the end of Toyota’s troubles though. They still haven’t fixed all affected cars, and have recently announced recalls for the Lexus GX 460, Toyota Land Cruiser Prado and Sienna. Also, more fines are reportedly possible, and this whole story has definitely damaged their image.
Toyota Motor Corporation Agrees to Settle NHTSA Civil Penalty
Toyota Motor Corporation (TMC) announced today that it has agreed to settle the civil penalty demanded in the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s April 5 letter related to the company’s recall for slow-to-return and sticky accelerator pedals by paying $16.4 million. The company said:
“We agreed to this settlement in order to avoid a protracted dispute and possible litigation, as well as to allow us to move forward fully-focused on the steps to strengthen our quality assurance operations. This will allow us to focus on delivering safe, reliable, high quality vehicles for our customers and responding to consumer feedback with honesty and integrity. These have been core Toyota values for 70 years, and we pledge to make an even greater effort to adhere to this philosophy now and in the future. We also welcome a new, more transparent chapter in our relationship with NHTSA, consistent with our commitments to Congress and the American people.
“We regret that NHTSA tentatively concluded that they should seek a civil penalty. Toyota denies NHTSA’s allegation that it violated the Safety Act or its implementing regulations.
“We believe we made a good faith effort to investigate this condition and develop an appropriate counter-measure. We have acknowledged that we could have done a better job of sharing relevant information within our global operations and outside the company, but we did not try to hide a defect to avoid dealing with a safety problem.
“Toyota is already moving ahead with a number of important steps to strengthen our quality assurance operations and enhance our ability to meet customer expectations.
- We have strengthened our information-gathering capabilities to respond more quickly to customer concerns and investigate potential quality issues more aggressively.
- We’ve appointed a new Chief Quality Officer for North America, enlisted the help of respected independent experts to ensure our quality assurance processes are robust and given the region a bigger role in decision-making on safety issues for North America.
- Our dealers continue to make extraordinary efforts to repair recalled vehicles as quickly and conveniently as possible for our customers.
“We are proud of the vehicles that Toyota produces and are confident they are among the safest on the road. As our actions since this recall was announced underscore, we are intensely focused on listening even more carefully to our customers and addressing any issues that emerge without delay. All of us at Toyota are grateful for our customers’ continued support, and we are determined to continue earning their trust.”