A major setback for Toyota, one of the world’s most respected and trusted automakers. Today the U.S. Justice Department announced the Japanese automaker had agreed to pay a $1.2 billion fine in order to avoid a criminal fraud charge. This is the largest fine ever against an automaker.
The criminal charge stems from an investigation into the sticky gas pedal/floor mat controversy. Toyota began getting complaints in 2009 that some of the gas pedals on its vehicles appeared to jam or stick — causing sudden acceleration accidents — some resulting in death.
Instead of owning up to the problem and fixing it, Toyota now admits it lied and gave misleading statements to consumers, regulators, and members of Congress. “Even while giving unequivocal assurances that it had fully addressed a grave safety problem, Toyota knew full well that the problem of unwanted acceleration persisted.”U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara is quoted as saying in a post on Forbes.
“Entering this agreement, while difficult, is a major step toward putting this unfortunate chapter behind us. We remain extremely grateful to our customers who have continued to stand by Toyota.” said Christopher P. Reynolds, chief legal officer, Toyota Motor North America, in the post.