The Justice Department announced this morning that Toyota will pay $1.2 billion in federal fines in a settlement resulting from the criminal probe regarding the unintended acceleration in its vehicles. The DOJ reached the conclusion that Toyota intentionally concealed information from federal regulators and mislead consumers.
This makes the largest criminal penalty imposed on a car company in U.S. history. During the announcement, Attorney General Eric Holder put other car companies on notice that they should not repeat Toyota’s mistakes. This settlement with Toyota could provide a road map for authorities pursuing a similar case against GM.
The $1.2 billion fine is in addition to the billions of dollars it cost Toyota for the 9.4 million vehicles they recalled over the sticky accelerator pedals, along with the floor mats that could cause the pedals to get stuck, and hundreds of lawsuits filed by customers for injuries, economic loss, and wrongful death.
It’s rare for automakers to be held criminally liable for defects, and even more rare for an automaker to admit wrongdoing.
Considering that Toyota reported a $5.2 billion profit in its last fiscal quarter alone, the $1.2 billion fine is a drop in the bucket.