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Feds fine Daimler Trucks $30M for slow recall reporting

Consent decree with regulators includes $5 million to improve analytics

Daimler Trucks North America will pay up to $30 million to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration for tardy recall reporting. (Photo Daimler Trucks)

Daimler Trucks North America (DTNA) agreed to pay up to $30 million in civil penalties for tardy recall reporting in a two-year consent agreement with federal safety regulators. It is the biggest such fine sought in five years.

DTNA must pay $10 million to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) within 60 days. And it must present a plan to invest $5 million to improve its analysis of safety issues within 90 days. The remaining $15 million is deferred. It could be forgiven if DTNA does everything in the 18-page consent order released Thursday.

A year ago, Daimler’s Mercedes-Benz passenger car unit agreed to pay NHTSA a $20 million penalty over its handling of U.S. vehicle recalls. That included a similar failure to notify owners in a timely manner and submit all the required reports.

Investigation began in 2018

NHTSA began investigating DTNA’s timeliness in recall reporting in April 2018. The initial focus was on four safety recalls, including one involving 438,255 Freightliner Cascadia and Western Star brand trucks from 2008-2018 for brake light failures. The investigation grew to cover seven recalls involving 477,476 trucks.

NHTSA requires a vehicle maker to report a suspected defect and noncompliance report within five business days of discovery. DTNA, which sells more Class 8 trucks than any other truck maker, initially disagreed with NHTSA’s finding.

“In this case, though there are no known accidents or injuries associated with any of the voluntary recalls, we appreciate the opportunity to summarily resolve this matter and continue building safe, efficient and reliable commercial vehicles,” a Daimler spokesman told FreightWaves.

Largest truck maker penalty since 2015

The consent decree carries the largest penalty sought by NHTSA since December 2015 when it fined Fiat Chrysler Automobiles $70 million for underreporting crash, death and injury data tied to its cars and trucks. In July of the same year, specialty heavy-duty truck maker Forest River was fined $35 million.

The Portland, Oregon-based subsidiary of Daimler Trucks AG continues to report safety recalls of various sizes. That includes the recall in July of 164,317 Freightliner models from 2017-2021 because of antilock brake corrosion. In October, Daimler recalled four model years of Cascadias because the brake lights remain illuminated when the brake pedal is released.

Agreeing to work toward technological solutions to more timely recall reporting fits with Daimler’s approach toward telematics and advanced driver assistance systems. DTNA was the first to bring Level 2 automated driving features to a Class 8 truck with the Detroit 5.0 system offered as an option on its 2020 model Cascadia.

“DTNA will invest in and in good faith work toward developing advanced data analytics capabilities to enhance its ability to detect and study emerging safety-related defect trends on its vehicles,” according to the consent order. Machine learning, predictive analytics and sensing methodologies would be added to safety investigations.

“The paramount focus for Daimler Trucks North America is on building safe, efficient and reliable commercial vehicles for the customers and drivers who keep our country and the world moving,” the DTNA spokesman said.

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Click for more FreightWaves articles by Alan Adler.


  1. Billy Phipps

    If I could find a way to sue the crap out of Daimler. I would very much do so. They screwed up from the start. Knowing they screwed up. They have upgraded parts that they will sell you to fix their screw ups at a very absurd price for the upgraded part. Therefore placing the accountability at the consumers feet for Daimlers screw ups. SAFE, RELIABLE, TRUCKS??? I DONT F-N THINK SO! I can give a list of all the engineering negligence to these pieces of garbage. I have the proof right here under my feet as well. I’ve tried contacting Daimler to no avail! There isnt a highway you can drive on everyday and not see these pieces of crap broke down on the side of the road. Alot don’t even make it off the road. They sit in the middle of the road! IF ANYONE KNOWS OF A LAW FIRM WHO WOULD BE WILLING TO GO AFTER THEM FOR THE CONSUMER IN A CLASS ACTION LAWSUIT. PLEASE FEEL FREE TO CONTACT ME!!! MY EMAIL IS; [email protected]

  2. Michael Gully

    The fine to Daimler just typical of our corrupt government today to seize money from legitimate business.

    While our fleet has been a long time proponent of Freightliner trucks it is also well known I can be a harsh critique of Daimler and have had plenty of differences including harsh conflicts.

    SO I just don’t side with Daimler because it is today’s Freightliner. I call it the way it is.

    Daimler and Freightliner are both pro safety. It’s focus is on safety and building a good truck.

    the fact that no accidents resulted make the fine absolutely absurd. Legal thievery for our government.

    Our government did similar to all the O E M’s in 1998 on emissions. And for that we have struggled with costly inefficient trucks ever since 2004. While the issue may be slightly less today than in 2017 and prior the fact remains todays trucks are far from reliable.

    The strong headline meant as a negative to Daimler and Freightliner serves nothing to me other than government greed and legal thievery.

    Just my opinion. The government gifted itself millions that the consumer were get to absorb eventually.

    1. Billy Phipps

      You are soo soo wrong!!! This fine from Daimler should be taken and given proportionately amongst all the owners of these largely UNSAFE and. NON-FUNCTIONING, VERY UNRELIABLE PIECES OF COMPLETE GARBAGE!

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Alan Adler

Alan Adler is an award-winning journalist who worked for The Associated Press and the Detroit Free Press. He also spent two decades in domestic and international media relations and executive communications with General Motors.