Toyota Motor Corp. agreed to pay two fines totaling more than $32.4 million for failing to promptly inform regulators of defects in its vehicles, instead allowing millions of potentially dangerous vehicles to remain on the nation’s roads.
The record penalties, resulting from months-long investigations by the Transportation Department into the automaker’s handling of safety issues, were related to floor mats that could entrap accelerator pedals and for a flaw that can cause total loss of steering control.
They come in addition to a $16.4-million fine levied against Toyota in April for delaying a recall of gas pedals that could become stuck, bringing the Japanese company’s total penalties to nearly $50 million this year.
Prior to this year, the largest penalty against a car company was $1 million, paid by General Motors in 2004 for delaying a windshield wiper recall.
The fines, announced by the government late Monday, were the latest blow to a company that was long heralded as the worldwide leader in safety and quality.
A Los Angeles Times investigation into sudden-acceleration complaints by owners of Toyotas led to three congressional probes and drew national attention to the issue. In the face of the mounting crisis, Toyota temporarily halted sales of eight models, issued millions of recall notices and made a rare public apology for its safety and quality lapses.