On Thursday, Toyota reached a settlement with the US government over a decade of non-compliance with Clean Air Act reporting rules. By law, defects or recalls that affect vehicle emissions equipment must be reported to the Environmental Protection Agency.
But, as Susan Bowden, Assistant Director of the Environmental Protection Agency, says,[f]Or a decade ago Toyota failed to report mandatory information about potential defects in its cars to the Environmental Protection Agency, keeping the agency in the dark and avoiding oversight. The Environmental Protection Agency considers this failure a serious violation of the Clean Air Act. “
Manufacturers are supposed to provide emissions defect information reports if they know of an emissions defect that affects at least 25 or more vehicles (or engines) of a particular model in a given model year. They must also submit voluntary emissions recall reports when the call-up begins to fix the emissions problem, as well as quarterly reports on the recall’s progress.
However, the Justice Department says that for 10 years starting in 2005 Toyota delayed submitting 78 emissions defect information reports – affecting millions of vehicles during this time – dumping many of them into the arms of the Environmental Protection Agency in 2015. Additionally, there were 20 withdrawal reports (and 200 quarterly reports) that had never been submitted.
The Department of Justice says Toyota in Japan has chosen to follow the weakest emissions defect reporting requirements set by the California Air Resources Board and will only file defect reports to the Environmental Protection Agency when also complying with CARB.
Toyota settled with the government, and admitted and accepted responsibility for this lost decade of reporting. As a result, it will pay a civil fine of $ 180 million, the largest fine ever issued for violating this provision of the Clean Air Act.