Toyota Motor Corp.'s company timelines indicate that it had known about the defects that could result to unintended acceleration in its cars more than 3.5 years before it moved for a recall, according to documents dated March 24 that were submitted to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. As early as Feb. 7, 2006, Toyota knew that floor mats could entrap accelerator pedals and five months later, it had learned that its pedals could stick.
This evidence proves Toyota's delayed response that resulted to the recall of over 8 million vehicles worldwide beginning last year to fix the two types of acceleration-related defects.
The first report talked about a model year 2005 Prius hybrid "regarding floor mat interference with an accelerator pedal." Toyota had started recalls for these two defects after an incident on Aug. 28 where a Lexus sedan crash killed off-duty California Highway Patrol officer Mark Saylor and three family members.
It was discovered that the crash resulted when a floor mat jammed down the accelerator pedal. Earlier this week, the US Transportation Department proposed the maximum $16.4 million fine on Toyota, saying that Toyota "knowingly hid a dangerous defect."
Under US law, companies only have five days after learning of safety defects to report them to the auto safety regulator. NHTSA's Office of Defects Investigation has also received criticism from Congress for its role in the recalls.