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Toyota confirms $1.2B settlement; "we've made fundamental changes"

by Justin King

Company views settlement as step toward \"putting this unfortunate chapter behind us.\"

Confirming earlier reports, Toyota has announced a $1.2 billion settlement with the federal government over its handling of the unintended acceleration recalls.

"Toyota put sales over safety and profit over principle," FBI assistant director-in-charge George Venizelos said in a statement. "The disregard Toyota had for the safety of the public was outrageous. Not only did Toyota fail to recall cars with problem parts, they continued to manufacture new cars with the same parts they knew were deadly."

Toyota frames the situation in a different light, as chief legal officer Christopher P. Reynolds claims the automaker "took full responsibility" and consequently made "fundamental changes" to become a more responsive company any rebuild customer trust.

"Specifically, we have taken a number of steps that have enabled us to enhance quality control, respond more quickly to customer concerns, strengthen regional autonomy and speed decision-making," Reynolds added. "Importantly, Toyota addressed the sticky pedal and floor mat entrapment issues with effective and durable solutions, and we stand behind the safety and quality of our vehicles."

In response to the recall crisis, the company implemented a new rapid-response team to quickly investigate customer concerns. It invested $50 million in a new collaborative safety-research center and enhanced regional autonomy, among other changes.

Despite the settlement, the company is not immediately immune to future prosecution. It has agreed to allow an independent monitor to review policies and procedures related to its safety communications process, internal handling of accident information and process for sharing technical reports.

"Other car companies should not repeat Toyota's mistake: a recall may damage a company's reputation, but deceiving your customers makes that damage far more lasting," said Attorney General Eric Holder.

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