Toyota agrees to pay $17.35 million fine for delay in launching recall image

Toyota Motor Corporation has agreed to pay a record fine of $17.35 million for not having reported a safety defect to the U.S. government in a timely manner.

The U.S. Department of Transportation said the fine was the highest ever for not initiating a recall in within the allowed timeframe. Although the Japanese automaker will pay the fine, it maintains it has done nothing wrong.

Toyota said in a statement it agreed to the settlement without admitting any breach of its U.S. safety obligations. “We agreed to this settlement in order to avoid a time-consuming dispute and to focus fully on our shared commitment with NHTSA to keep drivers safe,” said Ray Tanguay, chief quality officer of Toyota North America.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) said it contacted Toyota in May after noticing a trend of “floor mat pedal entrapments” in vehicle owner questionnaires. A month later, Toyota responded that it was aware of 63 alleged incidents and said it would launch the recall. However, federal law requires automakers to notify the agency within five business days of determining that a safety defect exists and to conduct a recall.

In June, Toyota announced a recall of 154,036 2010 Lexus RX 350 and RX 450h vehicles to address a risk than a loose floormat could force down the accelerator pedal, a similar problem to those that led to Toyota’s massive 2009 recalls.