News: Toyota Hit With $180 Million Fine For Violating Clean Air Act

Toyota "shut its eyes to the noncompliance" between 2005 and 2015, according to a New York U.S. attorney

Toyota has some of the most efficient vehicles in the U.S. market…and some of the least efficient as well. (Photos: Toyota)

Toyota faces a massive fine for Clean Air Act violations

The U.S. district attorney’s office in New York City announced a $180 million fine against Toyota this week for decade-long violations of the Clean Air Act, according to a new report by The New York Times. One of the world’s largest automakers failed to report issues with how their cars controlled greenhouse gas emissions between 2005 and 2015. By omitting the defects, the company violated standards in the act aimed at protecting public health as well as the environment, the complaint filed in Manhattan stated.

The allegations leveraged blame on Toyota’s managers and Japanese staff, who failed to stop or properly report the problems. “Toyota shut its eyes to the noncompliance,” acting U.S. attorney Audrey Strauss said. The company agreed it would not contest the fine.

In its response, company spokesman Eric Booth said the decade-long problem contributed a “negligible emissions impact, if any”. He continued, “Nonetheless, we recognize that some of our reporting protocols fell short of our own high standards, and we are pleased to have resolved this matter.”

The 12-year-old Toyota 4Runner is still a popular vehicle, but it doesn’t manage more than 17 mpg combined.

Moving toward more SUVs

While the Times’ report didn’t mention specific vehicles, it’s no secret Toyota makes some of the least efficient vehicles in the industry. The Toyota 4Runner, Sequoia and Land Cruiser are cases in point, each failing to manage more 14 to 17 mpg in the EPA’s combined cycle. As SUVs have exploded in popularity (and bolstered Toyota’s profit margins), more of these vehicles on the road have contributed to greater gas emissions. Climate reporter Hiroko Tabuchi does, in fact, mention a recent EPA report that shows the automaker has been slow to adopt some current technologies to improve fuel consumption.

While the automaker did pioneer and continues to heavily employ hybrid technology, it did back earlier efforts by the Trump administration to rollback tailpipe emissions standards. President Akio Toyoda also drew sharp criticism with his recent comments on the industry’s shift toward EVs. At the time, he said, “The current business model of the car industry is going to collapse,” as well as arguing that building more EVs would worsen carbon dioxide output.

This fine is just the latest in a line of emissions-related penalties. Volkswagen, most notably, admitted to its efforts in the Dieselgate scandal. Daimler also paid heavy penalties, as did Fiat Chrysler Automobiles.