In a letter to Toyota today, NHTSA claims that were it not for federal caps on fines, the automaker should have faced $13.8 billion in penalties. Yes, that's billion with a "b." Beige almost bit Toyota back real hard.

According to the Freep:

"By law, the maximum NHTSA can fine any automaker for delaying a recall is $16.375 million. The agency told Toyota that if this cap weren't in place, the automaker would be liable for a $6,000 fine on every one of the 2.3 million cars and trucks covered by the recall, or $13.8 billion."

Full text of the letter below, including the news of the possibility of another $2 million-plus fine below. [Freep]