The government also says Friday that GM will report safety issues faster in the future.
The fine is the maximum allowed by law. But it's only a fraction of the $3.8 billion GM made last year.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has been investigating GM's delayed recall of older small cars with defective ignition switches. GM has acknowledged knowing about the problem for at least a decade, but it didn't recall the cars until this year. The company says at least 13 people have died in crashes linked to the problem.
The Justice Department also is investigating.
Automakers are required to report safety defects within five days of discovering them.
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