Toyota Hit With Record Fine for Delayed Lexus Recall


  • 2010 Lexus RX 350 Profile

    2010 Lexus RX 350 Profile

    Toyota will pay a record fine of $17.35 million to the U.S. government for delaying the recall of 154,036 2010 Lexus RX 350 and RX 450h SUVs over pedal entrapment issues. | December 18, 2012

Just the Facts:
  • Toyota will pay a record fine of $17.35 million to the U.S. government for delaying the recall of 154,036 2010 Lexus RX 350 and RX 450h SUVs over pedal entrapment issues.
  • Toyota has also agreed to make internal changes to its quality assurance and review of safety-related issues in the U.S., said NHTSA in a statement on its Web site on Tuesday.
  • "We continue to strengthen our data collection and evaluation process to ensure we are prepared to take swift action to meet customers' needs," said Toyota in a statement on its Web site.

WASHINGTON — Toyota will pay a record fine of $17.35 million to the U.S. government for delaying the recall of 154,036 2010 Lexus RX 350 and RX 450h SUVs over pedal entrapment issues.

Toyota has also agreed to make internal changes to its quality assurance and review of safety-related issues in the U.S., said the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in a statement on its Web site on Tuesday.

The $17.35 million fine is the maximum allowable fine under U.S. law and represents the single highest civil penalty amount ever paid to NHTSA for violations stemming from a recall.

"With today's announcement, I expect Toyota to rigorously reinforce its commitment to adhering to United States safety regulations," said Ray LaHood, U.S. Transportation Secretary, in a statement.

Toyota said it agreed to pay the fine "in order to avoid a time-consuming dispute and to focus fully on our shared commitment with NHTSA to keep drivers safe."

"We continue to strengthen our data collection and evaluation process to ensure we are prepared to take swift action to meet customers' needs," said Toyota in a statement on its Web site.

It stopped short of admitting any wrongdoing.

In 2010 Toyota paid $48.8 million in civil penalties for failing to recall millions of vehicles. The 2010 fines came as a result of three separate investigations into the automaker's handling of recalls.

Federal law requires all automakers to notify NHTSA within five business days of determining a safety defect exists and to promptly conduct a recall.

The delayed Lexus pedal entrapment recall came after NHTSA began an investigation in 2010 after it saw an increase in consumer complaints.

"In May, NHTSA contacted Toyota regarding the trend, and a month later Toyota advised NHTSA that it was aware of 63 alleged incidents of possible floor mat pedal entrapment in model year 2010 Lexus RX 350s since 2009," said NHTSA. "Toyota's own technicians and dealer technicians reported that certain alleged incidents of unwanted acceleration had been caused by floor mat pedal entrapment.

"In June, Toyota advised NHTSA that it would conduct a recall of 154,036 model year 2010 Lexus RX 350 and model year 2010 RX 450h vehicles to address floor mat pedal entrapment."

Toyota still faces lawsuits in connection with its recalls related to pedal entrapment.

"It's critical to the safety of the driving public that manufacturers report safety defects in a timely manner," said David Strickland, NHTSA administrator, in a statement on Tuesday. "Every moment of delay has the potential to lead to deaths or injuries on our nation's highways."

Edmunds says: Another major setback to Toyota's safety reputation in the U.S.

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