On April 5, the NHTSA levied their largest civil penalty in recorded history. $16,375,000 against Toyota, because “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.” When we reported that, people thought Toyota would just appeal and drag it out. Not so easy, said The Nikkei [sub]. Toyota is between a rock and a hard place: “Admitting to the charge could strengthen the cases of car owners suing the firm, while refuting it risks inflaming U.S. public opinion.” Toyota found a way out.
According to Japan’s Jiji News Agency, Toyota will pay the $16.4m on Monday morning without admitting any wrongdoing. According to Jiji, Toyota “concluded that filing a complaint over the penalty would draw opposition from the U.S. government and Congress and further damage its brand image, already hurt by recent massive recalls to deal with the defect.”
Reuters says that Toyota might still appeal if regulators don’t approve the company’s plan of not admitting the allegations.
So what say you? Will LaHood take the money?