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  (Source: Sting Ray Studios)

Toyota has recalled millions of vehicles, including the best-selling Camry for unintended acceleration problems. Toyota has now received a massive fine for trying to deceive U.S. federal regulators.  (Source: Torque Report)
Fine is largest in U.S. history against an automaker

The atmosphere at the U.S. Department of Transportation on Monday was tense as Secretary Ray LaHood slammed Japanese automaker Toyota.  Lahood announced, "We now have proof that Toyota failed to live up to its legal obligationsWorse yet, they knowingly hid a dangerous defect for months from U.S. officials and did not take action to protect millions of drivers and their families."

Defects are an automaker's eternal enemy.  Every year thousands, if not millions of vehicles are recalled for defects.  Toyota's critical problem was not so much the defects itself -- despite the massive number of vehicles involved.  Rather, Toyota's key mistake was the dangerous game of deception it reportedly played.

According to documents obtained from Toyota, the company began a recall on "sticky pedals" in September of last year in Canada and Europe.  However, it failed to inform U.S. regulators of the problem, and made no effort to launch a recall of the effected vehicles until it came under heavy fire in January.

That constitutes a gross violation of federal safety guidelines, which demand that an automaker inform the U.S. federal regulators within five days of discovering a defect.

As a result, the DOT has thrown the book at Toyota, proposing a $16.4M USD, the maximum penalty allowed under the law.  That fine far surpasses the biggest previous fine against an automaker -- $1M USD sum levied against General Motors for failing to promptly recall windshield wipers in 2002-2003 model vehicles.

Toyota has two weeks decide its response.  Despite the reportedly conclusive evidence, the Asian automaker is expected to appeal the decision, perhaps seeking a smaller fine.

Meanwhile, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) continues to investigate the sticky accelerators, unsatisfied with Toyota's claim that floor mats were solely to blame.  NHTSA is looking at a host of mechanical and electrical elements for bugs, and is even examining whether cosmic rays could play a role, with the help of experts from NASA.

The government continues to investigate Toyota's behavior during the recall, as well.  DOT officials said more fines could brought against Toyota if further proof of wrongdoing is revealed.

While the defect mess is unpleasant for all those involved it does raise some interesting questions about governance.  Some say that the government should not police companies, and that the commercial press should be left to investigate reports of defects and inform consumers of safety risk.  Others argue the current system is a successful one.  And still others argue that current regulation does not go far enough -- that the federal government should have the ability to levy even bigger fines against companies who knowingly make products that could endanger U.S. consumers.

Likewise, the 135 pending lawsuits against Toyota raise similar questions.  Some argue that allowing such free litigation against safety critical businesses, such as automakers and healthcare providers allows citizens to take regulation into their own hands.  Others argue that it hinders free enterprise, raising prices, and worse yet leads to bigger government.

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RE: Fox news lies
By borismkv on 4/6/2010 8:50:58 PM , Rating: 2
Now, your typical conservative is not too good with this "thinking" thing. They're emotional beings, not intellectual.

This is conjecture. You cannot prove this or disprove it, and it is entirely useless information that is very likely false. Realistically, your statement shows a considerable level of bigotry, rather than intelligence or independent study (This group is better than that group because...). The fact that you appear to be a member of the group which you consider superior strengthens the validity of this observation. Your obvious demeaning attitude towards the OP and conservatives in general further strengthens it. Perhaps you should begin taking your own advice. After all, people are far less likely to listen to individuals who are so obviously hypocritical.

RE: Fox news lies
By Reclaimer77 on 4/6/2010 8:59:50 PM , Rating: 2
Even as a stereotype he's wrong. The prevailing stereotype, fact actually, is that Liberals are the ones who are ruled by their emotions.

RE: Fox news lies
By porkpie on 4/6/2010 9:47:42 PM , Rating: 1
Actually, I've always thought Winston Churchill said it best. Somewhat paraphrased, it is:

- Anyone under 30 who isn't a liberal has no heart.
- Anyone over 30 who isn't a conservative has no brain.

Historically as it is today, the liberal movement has always been driven more by emotions than logical reasoning.

RE: Fox news lies
By Yawgm0th on 4/7/2010 1:19:03 PM , Rating: 4
Too bad Churchill never said that or anything remotely similar.

Had he, it would have been capitalized Liberal and Conservative, referring to the UK parties and not widely applicable to American political ideology.

"My sex life is pretty good" -- Steve Jobs' random musings during the 2010 D8 conference

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