A report from Washington said that Toyota Motors Corporation is to be fined a maximum penalty of more than US16 million (RM51.4 million) by the United States Transport Department.

This is for failing to notify the U.S. and for not promptly informing the above regarding defective gas pedals among its vehicles. The automaker has been accused of hiding dangerous defects.

If carried out, the fine will represent one of the largest civil penalty ever demanded from an automaker by the U.S.A government. Toyota Motors is said to have recalled more than 6 million vehicles in the U.S. More than eight million worldwide has been recalled.

Toyota is said to be facing acceleration pedal problems in various models and braking issues in its Prius hybrid model. Toyota motor has up to 13th April 2010 not made a decision whether to respond or not to the announcement recently made by the U.S. government.

According to U.S. Transport Department Secretary Ray Lahood, documents obtained from Toyota said that it knew of sticking gas pedals problem as early as September 2009. Toyota however, failed to issue an immediate recall until late January 2010. 2.3 million vehicles were reported to have been involved in the exercise.

The U.S. now says it has proof Toyota Motors has failed to honour its legal obligations. Worse of all, it knowingly hid a dangerous defect for months and has failed to take immediate action to protect millions of drivers and their families.

For these reasons, the U.S. is seeking a maximum penalty that is currently possible.

Under U.S. federal laws, automakers are required to notify the department’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (N.H.T.S.A.) within 5 days of a safety defect being discovered and must promptly conduct a recall exercise.

Will Toyota accept or contest the American Transport Department’s challenge?

For readers’ consumption, the biggest auto industry fine came in 2004. General Motors was said to have paid a sum of US1 million (RM3.2 million) when it was accused of responding too slowly to recall 600,000 vehicles with windscreen wiper failure.

The Transport Department of U.S. said the penalty is specifically connected to the sticking pedal defect. However, Toyota could still be faced with other penalties under the U.S. government’s continuing investigations.

The U.S. government strict action on Toyota Motors Corporation augurs well for all Toyota owners the world over. It is in fact, meant for safety of all cars.