Toyota Could Pay $1B To Settle Accelerator Probe

Federal prosecutors say the Japanese car company was slow to react to complaints and at times uncooperative with a U.S. investigation.
Posted at 12:14 AM, Mar 19, 2014

After four years of government scrutiny, Toyota will try to put to rest a federal investigation into faulty accelerators in its vehicles by signing off on a $1 billion settlement.

CNN was the first to report a finalized deal Tuesday between the U.S. Justice Department and Toyota. It's one of the biggest such settlements ever and could be announced as early as Wednesday.

In a statement, a rep at Toyota said the company had "become a more responsive and customer-focused organization" since the federal probe began. The deal means the car company would pay $1 billion to the U.S. government and to its customers, in exchange avoiding criminal action against Toyota executives and likely securing protection from criminal action for a set number of years.

The Wall Street Journal had hinted at such a deal last month, citing anonymous sources. Tuesday's news seems to confirm that report.

The sticking accelerator issue gained national attention in 2009 after a series of customer complaints about runaway Toyotas — and after ABC aired a terrifying 911 call from a careening car in which all four people inside were killed. (Via CBS)

CHRIS LASTRELLA: "Our accelerator's stuck. We're in trouble. There's no brake. ... We're approaching the intersection. Hold on. Pray."

Toyota originally pointed to misplaced floormats or human error as the cause of these accidents. And although it has never claimed fault on its own part, the company did recall more than 10 million U.S. vehicles for inspection. 

U.S. officials did not find evidence of mechanical failure in Toyota vehicles, though prosecutors say the company was slow to address complaints and, at times, uncooperative. (Via Euronews)