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Ford Motor Co.'s Australian subsidiary has been fined 10 million Australian dollars ($7.6 million) for mishandling customer complaints about faulty automatic transmissions in thousands of cars.

The fine in the Federal Court on Thursday equals the largest penalty ever for a breach of Australian Consumer Law, matching that imposed on the Coles supermarket chain in 2014 for misconduct toward suppliers.

The Federal Court ordered the A$10 million penalty for "unconscionable conduct" after the consumer watchdog, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, took action against Ford Australia for mishandling customer complaints made between May 2015 and February 2016 over cars that shuddered, jerked or lost power because of faulty transmissions.

The case involved about 10,500 customer complaints over Ford Focus, Fiesta and EcoSport models made from 2011 to 2015 in the United States, India, Germany and Thailand and fitted with DPS6 PowerShift dual-clutch automatic transmissions.

The PowerShift has also been the target of consumer legal action in the United States and Canada. The commission told The AP in a statement that Ford's headquarters in Dearborn, Michigan, was aware of "quality issues" with the PowerShift. Ford's head office issued technical services bulletins about those problems that Ford Australia could have accessed, the statement said.

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