Safety Defect Recalls Sting Lexus, Volvo, and BMW

WASHINGTON, DC-Caught with a surfeit of safety flubs on 2010 Lexus RX models, Toyota Motor has bitten the platinum bullet and agreed to pay the U.S. Department of Transportation $17.35 million in civil fines for failing to report vehicle defects as required.

The latest of Toyota’s costly infractions also involved carpets that trapped accelerators and caused dozens of serious accidents. The fine was the largest allowed by U.S. law and brought about recalls of 154,036 Lexus RX models.

Toyota was not the only foreign-owned automaker which ran into safety recalls during 2012.

Volvo Cars, now owned by China automaker Zhejiang Geely Holding Group, was fined $1.5 million for 2010 recalls and BMW $3 million for 2010 recalls handled too slowly, according to the NHTSA.

Toyota’s recent recalls came on the heels of the 2010 campaign which cost the No.1 automaker a record $48.8 million in fines for safety-related defects, including those runaway floor mats plus steering overruns.

On December 15, Toyota CEO Akio Toyoda said online that “the automaker will overhaul its quality-control processes. We agreed to the latest settlement to honor our commitment with NHTSA to keep drivers safe.”

Toyota rebounded from its “recall-itis” with a sales surge in 2012, as it hastened an introduction of restyled 2013 Toyota, Scion and Lexus brands.
“Oh what a feeling, Toyota!” was heard again at its Torrance, California headquarters and dealerships. The brand definitely is on a rebound.