It’s a good thing that Toyota’s March sales were up 41% over March of 2009, because the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is seeking a $16.4 million fine against the automaker. Under federal law, automakers have five days to notify the NHTSA that a safety defect has been found; documents obtained from Toyota identify the sticky accelerator pedal issue as early as September 2009, months before the NHTSA was notified.
The $16.4 million fine is the maximum allowable per violation, and U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood is looking for additional violations from Toyota. If any are found, rest assured that Toyota will be slapped with more fines.
The previous record fine was $1 million, levied against GM in 2004 for failing to disclose an issue with windshield wipers. The original amount of that fine was $3 million, but GM was able to negotiate a lower settlement. It will be interesting to see if Toyota has any luck doing the same; given the current political climate, I’d be guessing no.