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NHTSA hits Volvo Group North America with $130M civil penalty

Jan. 31, 2023
NHTSA claims Volvo failed to comply with recall and reporting requirements for several heavy truck and bus products.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is fining Volvo Group North America a total civil penalty of $130 million over several heavy-duty truck and bus recall failures.

The action follows an investigation, which has been open since October 2018, that found Volvo failed to recall 64 affected products, including model years 2009-2017 Volvo VAH, VHD, VNL, and VNX trucks, “in a timely fashion,” according to NHTSA. The agency also claims that Volvo failed to comply with other recall and reporting requirements, including notifying owners of recalls and reporting death and injury incidents.

NHTSA issued a consent order that includes one of the largest-ever penalties for violations of the Motor Vehicle Safety Act, the agency stated in a press release. The term of the consent order is three years, which NHTSA may extend for up to two additional years if warranted.

“Safety is of paramount importance to the Volvo Group,” a Volvo spokesperson told FleetOwner via email. “We appreciate the opportunity to summarily resolve this matter, and we look forward to continuing our close work with NHTSA to identify and close any compliance gaps."

The consent order requires Volvo Group North America to make an upfront payment of $65 million and spend an additional $20 million on the specific performance obligation to create a safety data analytics infrastructure. It also includes an additional $45 million deferred penalty that may become payable under specified circumstances.

See also: Gallery: Trucker safety guide and statistics for 2023

Volvo Group North America has agreed to oversight by an independent third-party auditor, as well as to meet regularly with NHTSA to ensure that it addresses any potential safety issues. The auditor will review Volvo Group North America’s processes to assess compliance with the Vehicle Safety Act, regulations, and the consent order, and recommend and oversee implementation of organizational and process improvements to enhance Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards compliance and certification. The auditor will also oversee a review of past submissions to NHTSA for accuracy and completeness.

"Wide-ranging improvements in our North American safety processes and systems are already underway, and we’re dedicated to having a best-in-class safety organization moving forward,” the Volvo spokesperson added.

Volvo Group will develop and implement a safety data analytics infrastructure to enhance its ability to detect and investigate potential safety defects. In addition, the company will develop written procedures and training for its employees on compliance with the Vehicle Safety Act, regulations, and the consent order, as well as a training schedule to ensure that its employees are onboarded and trained appropriately.

Volvo Group North America will also launch a user interface on its websites to allow users to search vehicle identification numbers for open recalls and implement a system to support NHTSA’s VIN lookup tool.

The consent order was negotiated and prepared by both NHTSA and Volvo Group North America.

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