WASHINGTON (April 19, 2010)—Toyota Motor Corp. has agreed to pay the full $16.4 million civil penalty assessed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in the case of sticky accelerator pedals that affected some 2.3 million Toyota and Lexus vehicles, both Toyota and NHTSA announced.
Also, Toyota announced another big recall—this time of an estimated 600,000 Toyota Sienna 2WD minivans, model years 1998 to 2010, for possible corrosion of spare tire carrier cables.
The fine is the largest civil penalty NHTSA has ever levied against any auto maker, the agency said. NHTSA launched its investigation into the accelerator pedal issue Feb. 16, a few weeks after Toyota announced the accelerator pedal recalls, and determined April 5 that the company did not meet its legal obligation to inform the agency and consumers of the defect in a timely manner. NHTSA continues to review more than 120,000 pages of Toyota documents to determine whether the company disclosed all the information it was required to disclose, the agency said.
In its own statement, Toyota said it agreed to pay the fine to avoid possible litigation and move forward with its efforts to strengthen its quality assurance operations.
“This will allow us to focus on delivering safe, reliable, high-quality vehicles for our customers and responding to consumer feedback with honesty and integrity,” the company said. “These have been core Toyota values for 70 years, and we pledge to make an even greater effort to adhere to this philosophy now and in the future.”
Toyota has strengthened its information gathering capabilities and appointed a new Chief Quality Officer for North America to ensure situations such as the accelerator pedal recall don't happen again, the company said. Meanwhile, Toyota dealers continue to make extraordinary efforts to repair recalled vehicles, it said.
Regarding the Toyota Siennas, Toyota said the corrosion of the spare tire cables could occur in vehicles driven in cold-climate areas with high road salt use. In the worst cases, the carrier cables may fail and cause the spare tire to separate from the vehicle, creating a road hazard for following vehicles.
Toyota said it is working to create a remedy for possible spare tire cable corrosion. In the meantime, it will send Sienna owners an interim notice instructing them to take their vehicles to dealers for preliminary inspections.