Toyota Motor Corp. insists that it has not committed any wrongdoing even as it agrees to pay a record fine of $17.35 million for its failure to report a safety flaw to the U.S. government in a timely manner. This is the highest fine ever imposed for not announcing a recall in a timely manner, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation.
Last June, Toyota issued a recall over a risk that the accelerator pedal could be forced down by a loose floormat. This recall affected 154,036 2010 Lexus RX 350 and RX 450h vehicles.
This recall issued this year comes after a series of safety recalls from Toyota since 2009. There was a recall throughout the world of almost 19 vehicles from late 2009 to early 2011 for certain unintended acceleration claims affecting several models.
Toyota released a statement, saying that it entered the settlement without any admission of violating its U.S. safety obligations. Ray Tanguay, chief quality officer of Toyota North America, said that the company only wanted to avoid a dispute that would consume a lot of time. He also said that Toyota aims to concentrate fully on its shared commitment with the NHTSA to maintain drivers’ safety.
The NHTSA said that it got in touch with Toyota last May after it observed a trend of "floor mat pedal entrapments" in the questionnaires filled in by owners. A month later, Toyota told the safety agency that it received 63 reports and said that it will issue the recall. Under federal law, automakers have to inform the agency within 5 business days of finding that there’s a safety defect and implement a recall.