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Toyota to pay $16.4 million fine to US government over auto defects

US Transportation Safety Dept issues the largest ever fine against a car maker, in connection with violations of the nation’s vehicle safety laws.

April 19, 2010 11:23 by

Toyota has agreed to pay the US government more than $16 million for allegedly concealing defects in gas pedals, the Gulf News reported Monday, quoting an unnamed US government official.

The agreement does not require the automaker to admit wrongdoing, but “could help the company defend itself against the numerous civil lawsuits pending in U.S. courts,” the Wall Street Journal reported, quoting an official familiar with the case.

Transportation Department officials in the US said the fine is the largest ever imposed against a carmaker in connection with violations of the nation’s vehicle safety laws.

“By paying the full civil penalty Toyota is accepting responsibility for hiding the safety defect…in violation of the law,” an official was quoted as saying.

Additional fines remain a possibility as transportation safety administration officials in the US continue the review of more than 100,000 documents in an ongoing investigation of Toyota.

Toyota is accused of failing to report the safety problem for at least four months, despite the auto maker’s knowledge of a “sticky pedal defect” that allowed cars to speed out of control, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration claimed.

The US Department of Transportation reported earlier this month that it would seek a penalty of more than $16 million in the largest ever civil fine against an automaker, the Gulf News reports.

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