Toyota Motor Corporation reportedly saved $100 million by negotiating with National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) officials to downplay safety defects in its vehicles and minimize recalls related to unintended acceleration, according to The Detroit News.
The $100 million figure comes from a July 2009 internal document from the carmaker, under the heading “Wins for Toyota-Safety Group.” (See pdf.) It reportedly states that Toyota worked with NHTSA officials to focus on floor mats becoming wedged under accelerator pedals rather than on the pedals themselves or other components that could have led to a much more expensive recall. The floor mat recall ended a 2007 government investigation of Toyota Camry and Lexus ES models.
The document was presented Sunday to the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, which has launched an investigation into Toyota following a spate of recent recalls.
Between 2003 and 2009, the NHTSA initiated seven investigations into reports of sudden acceleration in Toyota vehicles, but closed five of them for lack of evidence, according to the New York Times. The remaining two focused on removing optional all-weather floor mats said to cause accelerator pedals to stick open.
Toyota has since recalled more than eight million vehicles worldwide for problems with unintended acceleration.
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