Ford Motor has been fined almost $2.96 million by the California Air Resources Board for failing to correct pollution problems on 2011 and 2012 Fiestas sold here.
The fine was among the largest levied by the regulatory agency -- "one of the top 10," CARB's John Swanton said.
The problem occurred inside the Fiestas' onboard diagnostic systems, which failed to correctly monitor emission levels on about 16,000 of the small cars.
Ford representatives said the company had done its part to comply and had made adjustments at the factory to prevent similar problems on future models.
"Ford is committed to complying with the law and meeting all regulations," the company said Thursday. "We fully cooperated with the state of California Air Resources Board and took timely actions to implement corrective actions and address ARB's concerns."
The company also stressed that the glitch did not affect the cars' performance nor the safety of the vehicles involved. There was no recall issued in connection with the emissions problem.
CARB's Swanton said Ford had paid the $2.96-million fine.
That figure is large by CARB standards, but is a small percentage of the $17.35-million penalty payment federal safety regulators asked Ford to pay last August for taking too long to recall nearly half a million Escape sport utility vehicles in 2012.
A certain portion of the money -- $740,000 -- will be used to assist small-business owners in bringing their heavy-duty diesel trucks or buses up to California emissions standards, according to a joint statement from California State Treasurer Bill Lockyer and ARB Emissions Compliance, Automotive Regulations and Science (ECARS) Division Chief Annette Hebert.
"This settlement will help reduce pollution by providing much-needed financial assistance to California truckers who need to operate clean diesel vehicles that improve California's air quality," said Lockyer, who chairs the California Pollution Control Financing Authority, which administers the clean diesel loan program.
Hebert added that "while Ford fully cooperated in the resolution of this matter, violations that can directly lead to higher levels of smog-forming pollution are taken very seriously."