U.S. to call automakers on carpet after lapses

David Shepardson
Detroit News Washington Bureau

Washington — Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx says he plans to call in major automakers for a meeting in the wake of a series of scandals in the auto industry.

“It’s time to bring everybody in here and have a deeper conversation about go-forwards,” Foxx said at a roundtable discussion Tuesday at the department’s headquarters. “There are a number of issues on the table right now that probably merit discussion across many of the manufacturers. And one of them is, ‘Look folks, we have millions of people who rely on what you make every day to get from everywhere from work to putting their most precious cargo — their kids — in cars, and we need to have confidence that the information that we get is real and accurate.’”

Volkswagen AG this month admitted to cheating to avoid emissions standards in 482,000 2009-2015 cars and could face $18 billion in fines from the Environmental Protection Agency. It follows the $900 million fine this month of General Motors Co. for failing to properly recall 2.6 million cars linked to at least 124 deaths and Toyota Motor Corp.’s $1.2 billion fine last year for not properly recalling vehicles for sudden acceleration issues.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration handed out a record-setting $105 million penalty to Fiat Chrysler in July for failing to properly conduct nearly two dozen recalls covering 11 million vehicles. It said Tuesday it is now investigating failures by the Italian American automaker to disclose death and injury reports.

In January, NHTSA fined Honda Motor Co. $70 million in January for failing to properly disclose death and injury reports. Hyundai Motor Co. also was fined last year for a delayed recall. BMW AG is now under investigation for a delayed recall, just three years after it was fined $3 million for not properly recalling vehicles.

“We’ve fined heavily where we can. We’ve also added in on top of that consent agreements that give us greater authorities to peer behind the veil,” Foxx said. He has repeatedly called on Congress to hike maximum fines for failing to recall vehicles to a maximum $300 million from the current $35 million.

NHTSA Administrator Mark Rosekind has said he wants to call a meeting of major automakers, but hasn’t set a date. Foxx said he hasn’t yet invited automakers.