It is settled. Toyota will pay $1.2 billion criminal penalty, the largest ever received by any automaker in the world.
Eric H. Holder Jr., the United States attorney general, said that during the 4-year investigation the department discovered that Toyota has kept from government officials and customer information regarding the defects which caused unintended acceleration in several of the automaker’s models.
Another US automaker which deals with a similar situation is General Motors, which faces a Justice Department inquiry regarding the company’s failure to recall vehicles with an issue that might have caused 12 deaths. Mr. Holder said that the Toyota case should be seen as an example for its new, vigilant and aggressive approach towards automotive safety.
“Other car companies should not repeat Toyota’s mistake,” Mr. Holder said at a news conference in Washington.
“A recall may damage a company’s reputation, but deceiving your customers makes that damage far more lasting.”
Regarding GM, the officials are currently investigating the automaker’s failure to fix several models, among which the Chevrolet Cobalt, fitted with defective ignition switches which could disable air bags and shut off engines.
Last month GM said it is recalling 1.6 million vehicles and chief executive Mary T. Barra has apologized for the delay and promised to cooperate with NHTSA and the two congressional committees to fix the issue.