Toyota Motor Corporation has agreed to pay a record US$17.35 million ($16.49 million) fine for failing to report a safety defect to the US federal government “in a timely manner” without admitting to any violation of its obligations under the US Safety Act.

The US Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) announced that the Toyota fine represents the highest civil penalty ever paid to the NHTSA for violations stemming from a recall.

According to US federal law, all car makers are required to notify the NHTSA that a safety defect exists or that a vehicle is not in compliance with federal motor vehicle safety standards within five business days of determining the issue and must promptly conduct a recall.

In a statement, the NHTSA said in early 2012 its Office of Defects Investigation began noticing a trend in floor mat pedal entrapment in 2010 Lexus RX350 models in vehicle owner questionnaires and early warning reporting data.

In May, the NHTSA contacted Toyota regarding the trend, and one month later Toyota advised the NHTSA it was aware of 63 alleged incidents of possible floor mat pedal entrapment in 2010 Lexus RX350s since 2009, with Toyota technicians reporting that certain alleged incidents of unwanted acceleration had been caused by floor mat pedal entrapment. In June, the Japanese manufacturer advised the NHTSA that it would conduct a recall of 154,036 Lexus RX350 and RX450h vehicles to address the floor mat pedal entrapment issue.

Lexus RX 450h

NHTSA Administrator David Strickland said manufacturers reporting safety defects in a timely manner was critical to safety. “Every moment of delay has the potential to lead to deaths or injuries on our nation’s highways.”

US Transportation secretary Ray LaHood reaffirmed that safety is the department’s highest priority, saying, “With today’s announcement, I expect Toyota to rigorously reinforce its commitment to adhering to United States safety regulations.”

Toyota North America’s chief quality officer Ray Tanguay said Toyota is dedicated to the safety of its customers. “We agreed to this settlement in order to avoid a time-consuming dispute and to focus fully on our shared commitment with NHTSA to keep drivers safe.”

Along with the fine, Toyota has also agreed to make internal changes to its quality assurance and review of safety-related issues in the United States, and to improve its ability to take into account the possible consequences of potential safety-related defects.

According to the NHTSA, the last time Toyota faced civil penalties in the US was in 2010 when the car maker agreed to pay US$48.8 million ($46.4 million) as a result of three separate investigations into its handling of recalls for pedal entrapment, sticky pedals, and a steering relay rod.




  • Nobody

    When the economy does not improve I guess this is what Govts do..look at alternative ways to get the cash in.

    • trader joe calif

      Read the article,           the economy is suffering , in the scheme of things this does not even cover petty cash, also note the congress do not get their hands on it ,  but the US Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration ???

      • F1orce

        Every penny counts,

        • $29896495

          Ouch Toyota, what are you doing? Forget the money, this is a manufacturer who has dropped their standards, and playing cover up to try and save their reputation. 

          • F1orce

            A vehicle mat issue is such a minor issue in comparison to blowing up TSI engines..
            Dead DSG
            Electrical failure

          • racrepus

            Wow, really. Down playing the deaths and injuries suffered by those who were the unfortunate victims of Toyotas cost cutting. You really have no class.

          • Quincy Peters

            I guess you would not mind driving a vehicle that was prone to accelerator jamming caused by floor mats creeping, do you not recall all the run away cars reported in the U.S.A.  !!
             I can replace an engine a material thing no big deal but I can not bring you back too life
             
             I just can not believe 
            ” A vehicle mat issue is such a minor issue” 

          • $29896495

            What they call mat, over there we call carpet. They are talking about the area of the carpet which surrounds the accelerator mechanism. I would call that a major issue if it starts fouling the mechanism and holding it on.

          • Pe88lz

            That’s funny my tsi engine blowing up never killed me?

          • Kaas

             cover up? did you read the article?… its more of a “late” fee.

          • Mason

            The Department of Transportation did an extensive investigation in 2011 and concluded that the vast majority of the sudden unintended acceleration cases were a result of driver error. Source: Car and Driver
            This has nothing to do with floor mats or ‘dropping their standards’ – rather, this is about timely reporting ANY incidents of potential interest, regardless of whether the automaker was at fault or not.

          • $29896495

            Fair enough if I’m still getting it wrong – but I re-read and I’m focusing on this “This has nothing to do with floor mats or ‘dropping their standards” The Toyota fine really is about that. and it is about your point which I also made else where. It’s part design and part non-avoidance. 

            A bit more time in design and there would not be an issue to sweep under the carpet (pardon the pun). In other words if you’ve done something wrong, admit to it and fix it as fast as possible. 

      • Mason

        In addition, the Department of Transportation did an extensive investigation and concluded that the vast majority of the sudden unintended acceleration cases were a result of driver error. Source: Car and Driver
        This has nothing to do with floor mats – the is about timely reporting ANY incidents of potential interest, regardless of whether the automaker was at fault or not.

        • Mason

          *this is about

          • $29896495

            Of course there’s a fair bit of driver error, but that’s not what prompted this particular case. It was also investigated and found that carpets (as we call them) were fouling the accelerator. It’s been through their judicial process and the result is that Toyota fouled up. The ruling has nothing to do with driver error or incompetence, it has to do with actual cause and event.   That’s a separate issue and you can’t combine the two.

          • Mason

            You clearly missed the point of my comment. I did not say that this particular fine was about driver error. I said that this fine was “about timely reporting ANY incidents of potential interest, regardless of whether the automaker was at fault or not.”

          • Mason

            You’re being completely hypocritical when you say that: “The ruling has nothing to do with driver error or incompetence, it has to do with actual cause and event. That’s a separate issue and you can’t combine the two”, since you tried to combine and make this about Toyota “dropping their standards” and their floor mats/carpet in your original comments. Perhaps you should think about not contradicting your own words. The ruling has nothing to do with the technicalities of the particular incidents, but rather, it is about an automakers responsibility to timely report any incidents of potential interest, regardless of whether the automaker was at fault or not.

          • Mason

            Yep, I’m afraid you’re still getting it wrong.
            When you say: “A bit more time in design and there would not be an issue to sweep under the carpet (pardon the pun). In other words if you’ve done something wrong, admit to it and fix it as fast as possible”, you’re talking about two separate things here. One is prevention and one is reparation. You’re trying to equate them and that is wrong – they are two completely different things.
            This ruling has nothing to do with prevention. In this particular ruling, the NHTSA are not telling Toyota that they should’ve prevented the incidents. Instead, what they are doing is fining them because they didn’t report the incidents of potential interest in a timely matter, irrespective of what caused the incidents.

          • $29896495

            I’m not being hypocritical. It’s cause and effect simple. The manufacturer isn’t going to be aware of of driver incompetence, but they are going to be aware if people are reporting a fault in their cars. Like most companies they would have a level of fault which they consider acceptable. Toyota was considered to be quite low but this would indicate that they now consider it to be much higher. Meaning that paying for a recall is not called for until they reach a certain number. But when safety is the issue and that’s the complaint should they keep quiet? Hence the fine

          • Mason

            Thank you for finally focusing on the issue, which is the timely reporting of incidents of interest, and not the actual floor mats in this case. Phew, thank goodness we got past that.

          • $29896495

            I’ve always been aware of that, but I’ve been making a point about Toyota also, that’s all. 

            That a fault as simple, yet potentially dangerous as this could be let through. Once upon a time, you would never hear of this from Toyota.

          • Mason

            Well, to quote you: “That’s a separate issue and you can’t combine the two.”

  • Zaccy16

    car manufactures need to get the floor mats correct!

    • Golfmother

      Yer the old floor mat keeps coming back to haunt them , attention to detail is sadly lacking all glitz and no substance .

      • Gerber

        Agreed, Toyota and Mercedes should know better.

    • Mason

      The Department of Transportation did an extensive investigation in 2011 and concluded that the vast majority of the sudden unintended acceleration cases were a result of driver error. Source: Car and Driver
      This has nothing to do with floor mats – rather, this is about timely reporting ANY incidents of potential interest, regardless of whether the automaker was at fault or not.

  • Latin Fish Names

    Ha Ha Ha Toyota… suffer in your jocks!

  • Guest

    Toyota is now official new death traps on the road? Pathetic. 

  • http://www.tomsforeign.com/ Angela

    I guess Toyota should have put the recall out sooner to warn people about their cars. Serves them right for putting people in danger.

  • The Real Wile E

    Customers complain about the floor mat getting caught and Toyota does not see it as a big deal.(Surprisingly Lexus)
    63 “alleged” incidents should not be ignored.So people die …oops that was not expected.The Feds are  onto to us what do we do now.Simple.Write a cheque but do not admit liability.Pathetic… money penalties are not enough.The Toyota people responsible should face court. That would send a stronger message to the industry.Car companies  are great at accepting the money on sale but not so great when it comes to acting on complaints.Governments are great at accepting money for wrong doings but not so great at ensuring justice is done.

  • F1orce

    Hahahaaa to the above ^^

    Of coarse if you cannot differentiate the brake pedal from the accelerator pedal then you will most likely crash and probably die.

    This whole ruckus was just propaganda by GM, Ford and the U.S. Government to bring Toyota down.

    But since that didn’t happen. They’re happy to settle with tens of millions of dollars..

    • Guest

      what the hell …………….what the hell are you smoking

    • The Real Wile E

      There was another conspiracy theory that the Masons were behind it with their crazy handshakes and everythang.

    • Chest Rockjaw

      I see Lexus tattooed behind the eyebrows of your avatar.

  • CAM09

    This was the biggest conspiracy in American Automotive history, when your GM or FORD and things aren’t going as well for you and TOYOTA is powering ahead what do you do? Blame TOYOTA for some aftermarket matts getting stuck under pedals, dont Americans know where the ignition switch or where neutral is? What a joke!!  

    • $29896495

      You couldn’t be more wrong. It’s not after market mats, “mats” = carpet. So the carpet was fouling the accelerator, potentially putting peoples lives in danger. What’s that got to do with GM or Ford? The ignition switch question is one of the ways inexperienced drivers get themselves killed. Car has accelerated to high speed is continuing, panicked,  the driver switches of the ignition off – STEERING IS LOCKED = collision = dead people probably not using seat belts.

  • Morgan

    This is a sad reality in an industry where every company is doing whatever it can to cut costs. Toyota made a huge mistake and rightfully got called out, but there is no reason to laugh at them, as this could well have happened to any company.

    • The Real Wile E

      Oh poor Toyota, poor car industry.

      Companies do not bleed .

      • Fxcvbc

        You reap what you sow. You act like a d*ck, you’ll get treated like a d*ck. I’m sure that’s a lesson you’ll learn very soon, Wile E, if you haven’t already.

        • The Real Wile E

          Now that’s a revelation you probably experience everyday of your non thinking life

      • Morgan

        I was just pointing out that there’s no reason for people to be immature about this situation, but by all means, go ahead if you wish.

  • James

    BMW and Volvo were also fined this year. Shame to see all these highly regarded manufacturers drop their standards.

  • James

    Turns out it actually did happen to other companies too – BMW and Volvo were also fined this year.