Toyota agrees to pay $32.4m fines in US over recalls

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The Independent Online

Toyota has agreed to pay $32.4m (£21m) in fines in the US after criticism it was too slow to respond to safety concerns, including reports of sticky accelerator pedals implicated in fatal crashes.

The Japanese car maker hopes that the fines – the maximum possible – draw a line under a series of safety issues that led to the recall of more than 8 million vehicles, hurt the company's reputation and dented its share of the lucrative US market.

"These agreements are an opportunity to turn the page," said Steve St Angelo, Toyota North America's chief quality officer. "All 30,000 of our US team members, and the tens of thousands of Americans at dealers and suppliers across the country, have worked very hard over the past year to put these issues behind us and set a new standard of responsiveness to our customers."

The settlements with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration related to the timeliness of recalls conducted by the company in 2005 to address potential concerns with steering relay rods and from 2007 to early 2010 to address the potential for pedal entrapment by unsecured, incompatible or improperly installed floor mats. They come on top of another $16.4m fine in May, for failing to alert safety authorities early enough about potential flaws.

Toyota sales in America have recovered from the recession more slowly than at US rivals General Motors and Ford, which have closed the gap on the market-leader as a result.

At the worst point of the debacle, Toyota's president, Akio Toyoda, travelled to the US to make a public apology for the safety issues at a hearing in Congress.