Japanese automaker Toyota has announced that it will pay the $16.4 million dollar fine imposed on the company by the Obama administration earlier this month. Officials assessed the penalty on the automaker after they found it engaged in deceptive and evasive tactics in handling reports of unintended acceleration among American consumers. The company was accused of informing consumers in Europe and elsewhere of the potentially dangerous problem back in September, although North American Toyota owners were left in the dark. Officials at Toyota first blamed reports of unintended acceleration on floor mats, which were believed to have come loose during vehicle operation, thus jamming the accelerator pedal. Following a number of highly publicized runaway car incidents and the leak of some internal documents where the company bragged about the money it saved by misleading investigators, federal officials began to take a closer look into the matter.
The fine which Toyota has agreed to pay is but one of the consequences that will follow its decision to hide safety information from consumers. There are numerous lawsuits pending against the company where settlements may total several billion dollars. Toyota would have faced billions worth of federal fines had it not been for legislation limiting federal officials in imposing a penalty.
More recently, Toyota halted sales on an SUV from its luxury car brand Lexus after Consumer Reports warned consumers against purchasing the automobile. The agency found that the car was prone to rollover accidents in cases where the driver would have to make an evasive maneuver. Toyota has not made it clear as to what it intends to do to remedy the situation for the over 6,000 people who already own the vehicle.