The US government has told Toyota it must pay a fine of $32.4 million for the way it has handled two vehicle recalls. The latest penalty will mean a total bill for the car maker of $48.8 million this year in the US because of the way in which it has dealt with defects in its vehicles. The manufacturer also received a fine in April.
The latest issues are firstly over the way Toyota dealt with the potentially fatal problem of sticky accelerator pedals. The problem was initially thought to be with particular floor mats in some models, and the car maker recalled 55,000 vehicles in 2007.However, a Lexus sedan crashed in California in 2009. The fatal incident was thought to be because the accelerator got jammed on the floor mat.
According to US regulators it was not sufficient for Toyota to remove floor mats adding that the accelerator pedal itself needed to be redesigned. The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration ruled that Toyota had known there was an issue but had failed to report it with in the time frame set out under US law.
A second case relating to the Japanese car giant involved an issue with steering. Toyota said the problem was only of concern to those who owned vehicles bought in Japan. However, it later conceded that the problem might be of concern to owners of a number of its models in the US as well. Nearly one million vehicles then had to be recalled.
Toyota’s head of quality in North America, Steve St Angelo, admitted that the company would like to move on from these issues and was working to improve the way it responds to its customers.