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Toyota fined for pollution defects

Toyota will pay $180 million to settle U.S. government allegations that it failed to report pollution control system defects in its vehicles for a decade.

The company also agreed in court to investigate emissions-related defects quickly and report them to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in a timely manner.

"Toyota's actions undermined the EPA's self-disclosure system and likely led to delayed or avoided emissions-related recalls," Audrey Strauss, the acting U.S. Attorney in Manhattan said Thursday in a prepared statement.

The Japanese automaker's actions brought financial benefits and excessive vehicle pollution from 2005 to 2015, the statement said. The company was accused in a government lawsuit of delays in filing 78 emissions defect reports as required by the Clean Air Act. The reports covered millions of vehicles, and some of them were as many as eight years late, the statement said.

The lawsuit was filed Thursday and settled on the same day, according to the statement.

In a statement, Toyota said it reported the problems five years ago after finding a "process gap" that brought delays in filing EPA emissions defect reports. "Within months of discovering this issue, we submitted all relevant delayed filings and put new robust reporting and compliance practices in place," the company said.

 

Gas mileage drops with more SUVs

A new government report says gas mileage for new vehicles dropped and pollution increased in model year 2019 for the first time in five years.

The mileage decrease comes as Americans continue to buy SUVs and trucks, and shift away from more efficient vehicles.

The Environmental Protection Agency says the changes show that few automakers could meet what it called unrealistic emissions and mileage standards set by the Obama administration through the 2020 model year.

But environmental groups say that automakers used loopholes and stopped marketing fuel-efficient cars and electric vehicles knowing that the Trump administration was about to roll back mileage and pollution standards.

The EPA report released Wednesday says gas mileage fell 0.2 miles per gallon for model year 2019, while greenhouse gas emissions rose by 3 grams per mile traveled, compared with 2018 figures. Mileage fell and pollution increased for the first time since 2014.

Mileage dropped to 24.9 miles per gallon while greenhouse gas emissions rose to 356 grams per mile, the report said.

To comply with the Obama-era standards, which the Trump administration rolled back starting with the 2021 model year, 11 of 14 major automakers had to rely on credits from previous years or those purchased from companies with more zero emissions vehicles, the EPA said.

 

Petco returns to public trading

Petco has returned to public ownership, selling itself as a pet health and wellness company positioned to eat up even more of an industry it says is valued at $97 billion.

On Thursday, Petco listed its common stock on the Nasdaq Global Select Market under the ticker symbol "WOOF." The initial public offering was comprised of 48 million shares priced at $18 apiece, with Petco expected to pocket $816.5 million in proceeds after fees and other costs.

Founded in 1965, Petco has experimented with various ownership structures — including two previous stretches as a publicly traded firm — over the past 55 years. Today, the pet food and services company operates 1,470 brick-and-mortar locations with a reported customer base of nearly 21.5 million people.

 

Google completes Fitbit acquisition

Google has completed its $2.1 billion acquisition of fitness-gadget maker Fitbit, a deal that could help the internet company grow even stronger while U.S. government regulators pursue an antitrust case aimed at undermining its power.

Thursday's completion of the acquisition comes 14 months after Google announced a deal that immediately raised alarms.

Google makes most of its money by selling ads based on information it collects about its billions of users' interests and whereabouts. Privacy watchdogs feared it might exploit Fitbit to peer even deeper into people's lives.

But Google wound up entering a series of commitments in Europe and other parts of the world pledging it won't use the health and fitness data from Fitbit's 29 million users to sell more ads. It insists it is more interested in adding Fitbit to its expanding arsenal of internet-connected products, which include smartphones, laptops, speakers, cameras and thermostats.

"This deal has always been about devices, not data, and we've been clear since the beginning that we will protect Fitbit users' privacy," Rick Osterloh, Google's senior vice president of devices and services, wrote in a Thursday blog post.

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