The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has fined Volvo Group North America up to $130 million in civil penalties for slow reporting of safety recalls, sloppy record keeping and insufficient employee training in handling product defects.
The penalty is among the largest levied under the National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act of 1966. NHTSA fined Daimler Truck North America $30 million for similar offenses in December 2020.
Volvo Group admits wrongdoing
NHTSA said it found and Volvo Group NA admitted violating multiple provisions of the Safety Act and its regulations. That included untimely filing of certain recalls, including inaccuracies in defect and noncompliance information reports and failing to:
- Comply with requirements for notifying owners of a recall.
- Submit certain quarterly recall reports.
- Submit certain manufacturer communications.
- Comply with the early warning reporting requirements, including reporting certain death and injury incidents
- Submit certain field reports.
The group is part of Sweden’s Volvo AB. Brands include Volvo Trucks North America, Mack Trucks, Nova Bus and Volvo Group Canada Inc. It is a separate entity from Volvo Cars owned by China’s Geely Automobile.
Volvo Group NA must pay $65 million of the fine within 60 days. Another $45 million could be canceled if it abides by the terms of a 21-page consent decree filed Friday. It also must spend $20 million to upgrade its recall-tracking technology and hire an independent third-party auditor to monitor its improvement over the term of the agreement.
Audit query dates to 2018
NHTSA opened an audit query in October 2018 to investigate Volvo Group NA’s compliance with Safety Act requirements, including recall timeliness and manufacturer communications and early warning reporting requirements. More than four years later, the penalties were assessed covering reporting deficiencies from July 2013 to the date of the decree.
During that period, VTNA filed 56 safety recalls. The largest covered 24,848 trucks for overtightened air tank straps that could snap and allow the air tank to fall to the ground. Mack had 63 recalls during the period. That included one in 2014 covering 70,208 trucks for an electronic power distribution module possibly contaminated from water leaks in and around the windshield.
The decree expires in three years but could be extended for two more years if NHTSA decides it is necessary.
“NHTSA will use the full scope of our authorities to protect the public from safety defects and from manufacturers that create potential safety problems by failing to comply with the law,” NHTSA Acting Administrator Ann Carlson said.
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