The Japanese car maker has paid the highest civil settlement in relation to US emissions reporting rules.
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Toyota will pay a US$180 million (AU$232 million) settlement to the US government, following a five-year investigation into the company.

According to news agency Reuters, the US Department of Justice publicly disclosed the outcome of the civil lawsuit last week – the first time government officials have confirmed the probe, despite Toyota announcing an investigation by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in 2016.

It's understood the EPA had been looking into failures of Toyota's self-reporting of emissions data, with the Japanese car giant filing defect reports late, or not at all.

"Toyota failed to report mandatory information about potential defects in their cars to the EPA, keeping the agency in the dark and evading oversight. EPA considers this failure to be a serious violation of the Clean Air Act," EPA Assistant Administrator Susan Bodine said.

The settlement is unrelated to the 'Dieselgate' scandal, in which Volkswagen Group was found to be using software to actively subvert emissions testing equipment.

A government statement said the Toyota settlement resolves "systematic, longstanding violations of Clean Air Act emission-related defect reporting requirements, which require manufacturers to report potential defects and recalls affecting vehicle components designed to control emissions".

The US$180M fine is the largest amount to be paid for a civil suit related to a EPA's emissions disclosure rules.

"While this reporting delay resulted in a negligible emissions impact, if any, we recognize that some of our reporting protocols fell short of our own high standards, and we are pleased to have resolved this matter," Toyota said in a statement.

In early January 2021, Toyota Australia announced it would pay back AU$18 million in JobKeeper subsidies it received from the Australian Government, thanks to strong sales in the second half of 2020.