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UPDATE 1-U.S. imposes $30 million penalty on Daimler for delayed truck recalls

(Adds NHTSA comment, Daimler comment)

WASHINGTON, Dec 31 (Reuters) - Daimler AG’s North American truck unit on Thursday agreed to a $30 million U.S. civil penalty to resolve an investigation of delayed recalls, the second time since late 2019 the German automaker has agreed to settle a probe by U.S. auto safety regulators.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) said Daimler Trucks North America failed to recall vehicles in a timely fashion and comply with reporting requirements after the agency opened a probe in April 2018 of about 464,000 vehicles.

As part of the settlement, Daimler Trucks agreed to develop and implement an advanced data analytics program to enhance its ability to detect and to investigate potential safety defects as part of a two-year consent order that can be extended by NHTSA for one additional year.

Daimler Trucks must pay $10 million upfront and spend an additional $5 million on projects to enhance safety. The agreement includes a $15 million deferred penalty that can become payable if Daimler does not comply with the consent order.

Daimler Trucks said it is focused on “building safe, efficient and reliable commercial vehicles.... 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,” it added.

Daimler Trucks agreed to meet with NHTSA on at least a monthly basis as part of the settlement.

“It’s critical that manufacturers appropriately recognize the urgency of their safety recall responsibilities and provide timely and candid information to the agency about all safety issues,” NHTSA Deputy Administrator James Owens said.

In December 2019, Daimler’s Mercedes-Benz USA unit agreed to a $20 million civil penalty over its handling of U.S. vehicle recalls after NHTSA said it failed to notify owners in a timely fashion in some recalls, did not submit all reports and did not launch at least two recalls in a timely fashion. (Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Dan Grebler)

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