"We now have proof that Toyota failed to live up to its legal obligations," LaHood said. "Worse yet, they knowingly hid a dangerous defect for months from U.S. officials and did not take action to protect millions of drivers and their families. For those reasons, we are seeking the maximum penalty possible under current laws."As of six o'clock today, a quick Google search for the phrases "federal government" and "maximum civil penalty" and the word "Toyota" turned up more than 3,750 results. Running the same search with "Chrysler" instead of "Toyota" returned only 52 unique results. Running the same search with "General Motors" instead of "Toyota" returned only 33 unique results. In the latter two cases, the results do not actually mention any time when the government has sought such penalties against the American automakers.
One has to wonder whether the government is playing favorites.