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Toyota faces $16M fine for sticky pedals

A new Toyota Highlander waits to be unloaded from a truck at Hanlees Hilltop Toyota in Richmond, Calif.

TEXT OF INTERVIEW

Bill Radke: U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood wants to hit Toyota
with a $16 million penalty for not notifying regulators right away of its problems with sticky accelerator pedals.
Marketplace's Amy Scott joins us live now. Good morning, Amy.

Amy Scott: Good morning.

Radke: How big a fine is that in the auto world?

Scott: Well, it'd be a record for the auto industry. GM had to pay $1 million for faulty windshield wipers several years ago. So this fine would be 16 times that. The law says you have to notify transportation safety officials of a defect within five days, and officials say Toyota waited at least four months to tell them about the sticky gas pedals. Toyota now has two weeks to accept this fine or it could fight it.

Radke: And could that happen? Toyota might fight this?

Scott: Well the company said yesterday that it hadn't received the letter yet from U.S. safety officials explaining the fine. I talked this morning to Hans Greimel, the Asia Editor for Automotive News, and he says next to the $2 billion that these recalls are costing Toyota, the fine isn't a huge deal:

Hans Greimel: I don't think the $16 million is going to make a big dent in their balance sheet, but any time you pay a record fine, it doesn't look good.

So Toyota has to basically weigh the bad PR of admitting guilt versus, you know. just getting this over with.

Radke: Right. Marketplace's Amy Scott there. Thanks, Amy.

Scott: Thank you.

About the author

Amy Scott is Marketplace’s education correspondent covering the K-12 and higher education beats, as well as general business and economic stories.
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