Lawsuits

The official said Toyota was expected to pay the full fine within 30 days as a means of avoiding going to court against the government, but did not intend to explicitly accept liability.

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Under federal law, carmakers are required to notify the government within five business days when they find a potential safety defect.

Toyota announced it would recall 2.3 million vehicles in January to address sticking pedals on popular vehicles such as the Camry and Corolla.

The Japanese car giant has recalled more than 8 million vehicles worldwide because of acceleration problems in multiple models and braking issues in its Prius hybrid, and is facing more than 90 lawsuits over the defects.

Concerns about sticking accelerator pedals and complaints from Toyota owners in the US were rising at the end of 2009, according to chronologies of the investigation Toyota provided to the government.

The NHTSA said documents provided by Toyota showed it had known about the sticky pedal defect at least since September 29, 2009, when it issued repair procedures to distributors in 31 European countries to address complaints of sticking pedals and sudden vehicle acceleration.

Toyota faces 90 lawsuits over acceleration and braking problems in its vehicles [Reuters]

The documents also showed that Toyota knew that owners in the US had experienced the same problems.

Compounding Toyota's woes, US transportation officials have not ruled out additional fines.

The NHTSA is reviewing whether Toyota delayed for six weeks the January recall of the 2009-2010 Venza model in the US to address floor mats that could stick to accelerator pedals, after making a similar recall in Canada.

Toyota recalled the Venza in Canada in December and reported to the US government on December 16 that the floor mats could move forward while the vehicle is in use and "may interfere with the accelerator pedal".

Toyota told US authorities at the time that the floor mats in question were not imported into the US but the Venza was added to the floor mat recall in late January.