World News

Toyota Agrees to $1.2 Billion US Fine for Hiding Car Malfunctions

The world's biggest automaker, Japan's Toyota Motor Corporation, is admitting that it intentionally misled the public about deadly car safety problems several years ago and has agreed to pay a $1.2 billion fine to the United States to settle a criminal investigation.

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder announced the resolution of the four-year case in Washington on Wednesday, calling the company's conduct "shameful."

Holder said Toyota was more worried about its corporate image than car safety.



"By the company's own admissions, it protected its brand ahead of its own customers. This constitutes a clear and reprehensible abuse of the public trust."



The investigation focused on the extent to which Toyota attempted to hide problems about unintended acceleration of some of its Toyota and Lexus models in 2009 and 2010. The malfunction led to deadly crashes as motorists were unable to control their vehicles when they suddenly raced to very high speeds.

Toyota recalled 10 million vehicles as the problem became known, but continued to blame drivers and misplaced floormats that trapped gas pedals for the unexpected acceleration. It previously paid more than $66 million to the U.S. transportation agency for delays in reporting the problem.

Hundreds of lawsuits have been filed against Toyota in connection with the acceleration problems and economic losses Toyota owners from the recalls. Toyota settled the economic loss cases for more than $1 billion and says it is in negotiations in nearly 400 other cases. Juries have mostly sided with the company in the death and injury cases.

Holder said the $1.2 billion fine is the largest ever levied by the U.S. against a car manufacturer.

The U.S. also filed a wire fraud charge against Toyota in the case, but deferred prosecution of the case for three years while it monitors Toyota's actions on safety issues.

Toyota says it has "made fundamental changes" to its operations to become "more responsive and consumer-focused."

Toyota's settlement of the case comes on the heels of two recent recalls by U.S.-based General Motors, the world's second biggest automaker, that totals more than 3 million vehicles.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs