The US Department of Transport has announced that it plans to fine Toyota Motor Corporation $16.4 million after the family-controlled automaker failed to notify US transport regulators about defects that allegedly cause unintended acceleration.
According to a statement released yesterday, the investigation into the Toyota recalls by the Department of Transport revealed the world's largest car manufacturer was aware of the so called "sticky-pedal" defect for at least four months before revealing it to safety authorities. US law states carmakers must inform authorities of any problems the find within five days.
Toyota, which now has two weeks to decide whether to appeal against the decision, is yet to respond to the news.
"We now have proof that Toyota failed to live up to its legal obligations," said Transport secretary Ray LaHood. "Worse yet, they knowingly hid a dangerous defect for months from US officials and did not take action to protect millions of drivers and their families. For those reasons we are seeking the maximum penalty possible under current laws."
The defect in question is at the centre of the current recall crisis that has seen Toyota recall over 8 million vehicles worldwide since November. (Click here to read our coverage of the story) Third-generation family head Akio Toyoda (pictured) has been accused of mishandling the recalls, as he remained largely silent on the matter until February.
However, he has since attempted to rectify the company's negative publicity, appearing in public often and personally heading a Toyota committee that is investigating the safety recalls.
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