Torrance, California – Toyota Motor Company has agreed to pay a US$16.4 million civil penalty to settle a demand by the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), but denies that it violated government safety regulations.
NHTSA sent the company a letter on April 5 related to Toyota’s recall for accelerator pedals that were slow to return or sticky.
In a statement, the company said, “We agreed to this settlement in order to avoid a protracted dispute and possible litigation, as well as to allow us to move forward fully focused on the steps to strengthen our quality assurance operations. This will allow us to focus on delivering safe, reliable, high-quality vehicles for our customers and responding to customer feedback with honesty and integrity.”
The company said that it welcomes a new, more transparent chapter in its relationship with NHTSA, “consistent with our commitment to Congress and the American people.”
However, Toyota said that it regrets that “NHTSA tentatively concluded that they should seek a civil penalty. Toyota denies NHTSA’s allegation that it violated the Safety Act or its implementing regulations. We believe we made a good-faith effort to investigate this condition and develop an appropriate countermeasure. We have acknowledged that we could have done a better job of sharing relevant information within our global operations and outside the company, but we did not try to hide a defect to avoid dealing with a safety problem.”
The company has implemented several new policies, including strengthening its information-gathering capabilities to respond more quickly to concerns, investigating potential quality issues more aggressively, and appointing a new chief quality officer for North America.