DETROIT — Ford Motor Co. has paid the top penalty of $17.35 million to settle government allegations that the firm was slow to recall SUVs last year.
The fine announced Thursday is linked to the July, 2012, recall of nearly 485,000 Ford Escapes from the 2001 to 2004 model years. The SUVs, equipped with 3-Liter V-6 engines, were recalled to fix sticking gas pedals. It’s the maximum fine that safety regulators are allowed to levy against an automaker.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration contends Ford knew about the problem in May, 2011, but failed to take action until the agency began investigating in July, 2012.
Regulators felt they had a case that Ford violated the law by delaying the recalls, although Ford denied any violations, according to a June 28 settlement agreement posted online by NHTSA.