Toyota Agrees to Pay $1.2B in Safety Probe
Toyota will pay $1.2 billion as a result of a U.S. investigation into the company's disclosure of safety issues related to its 2009-2010 recalls. The deal ends a four-year criminal probe revolving around Toyota's unintended acceleration problems. The issue has plagued Toyota's reputation and led to one of the largest recalls in history. The $1.2 billion payment is the largest criminal penalty imposed on a car company in U.S. history. In a statement today, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said that Toyota "intentionally concealed information and misled the public" about the safety issue. "While Toyota conducted a limited recall of some vehicles with floor mat issues in September 2009, the company delayed a broader recall until early 2010 – despite internal tests warning of dangers posed by other, unrecalled vehicle models," the statement read in part. Toyota said it has taken steps to improve safety since the recalls. Some changes include new teams that investigate customer concerns, a new research facility in Ann Arbor, Mich. built to study safety advances, and a new business philosophy that gives regional offices more authority. Toyota has also lengthened the vehicle development cycle to ensure that new products are safe to go to market. “In the more than four years since these recalls, we have gone back to basics at Toyota to put our customers first," Toyota Chief Legal Officer Christopher Reynolds said in a statement today. Toyota has faced a mountain of legal problems over the past few years regarding this issue. It has shelled out over $66 million to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration for failing to report safety defects in a timely manner. It has also faced hundreds of private lawsuits. Sources: Toyota, The Wall Street Journal, U.S. Department of Justice
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