The AP reports Ford has paid the maximum fine allowed of $17.35 million to settle claims by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration that it was slow to recall 485,000 Ford Escape SUVs from the 2001 to 2004 model years that “were recalled to fix sticking gas pedals that could cause crashes.” NHTSA contends that Ford new about the issue in May 2011, but failed to take action until the agency began its investigation in July 2012 after an Arizona girl died in a crash involving an Escape in January 2012. Ford denied any violations in the settlement agreement.
Bloomberg News reports, “It is critical to the safety of the driving public that manufacturers address automotive safety issues quickly and in a forthright manner,” Nathan Naylor, a NHTSA spokesman, said in an email. Meanwhile, Kelli Felker, a Ford spokeswoman, said in an email that “while we are confident in our current processes for quickly identifying and addressing potential vehicle issues, Ford agreed to this settlement to avoid a lengthy dispute with the government.”
The Los Angeles Times notes that Michelle Krebs, senior analyst at auto information website Edmunds.com called the development significant and comment that “what it says is that you don’t mess around with NHTSA.” He called it “a very expensive swat on the hand.”
The Detroit News points out that “Toyota paid the same fine last year because it delayed the recall of 154,000 Lexus SUVs over gas pedal entrapment issues.”
From the American Association for Justice news release.