Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Toyota will pay $32.4M to settle Federal safety probe

Toyota will pay $32.4M to settle Federal safety probe.
The AP (12/20, Thomas) reported the Department of Transportation said $32.4 million in civil penalties "will settle investigations into how Toyota dealt with recalls over accelerator pedals that could get trapped in floor mats, and steering relay rods that could break and lead to drivers losing control." The AP adds "the latest settlement, on top of a $16.4 million fine Toyota paid earlier in a related investigation, brings the total penalties levied on the company to $48.8 million." Toyota still "faces dozens of lawsuits from families of people killed or injured in crashes linked to unintended acceleration." The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration "has received about 3,000 reports of sudden acceleration incidents involving Toyota vehicles during the past decade, including 93 deaths."
Bloomberg News (12/21, McPherson, Kitamura) reports, "The settlements concern the timeliness of recalls conducted by the company in 2005 to fix steering relay rods and to assess pedals that may have become trapped by floormats from 2007 to early 2010, Toyota said in the statement. The payments follow an earlier $16.4 million US fine in May for failing to alert auto-safety regulators quickly enough about vehicle defects."
Reuters (12/20, Crawley) added, Toyota agreed to the fines issued by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration but did not admit to violating US law.
The Wall Street Journal (12/21, Mitchell) reports to date, Toyota will have paid a sum total of $49 million to the government for violations related to the recall of millions of vehicles.
The USA Today (12/20) "Drive On" blog reported Toyota quality control chief Steve St. Angelo said "All 30,000 of our US team members, and the tens of thousands of Americans at dealers and suppliers across the country, have worked very hard over the past year to put these issues behind us and set a new standard of responsiveness to our customers."
CNN (12/21) reports, In November, "Toyota announced a 'limited service campaign' to fix cooling pumps on 378,000 Toyota Prius hybrid cars in North America. And a federal judge in California tentatively ruled that dozens of Toyota vehicle owners who filed a class-action lawsuit against the automaker over alleged mechanical defects can proceed with their case. The lawsuit is the first major US civil action against Toyota since the automaker recalled millions of vehicles stemming from 'sudden unexpected acceleration' and brake defects." The New York Times (12/21, Bunkley) reports Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said in a statement, "I am pleased that Toyota agreed to pay the maximum possible penalty and I expect Toyota to work cooperatively in the future to ensure consumers' safety."

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