Toyota ‘Confident’ in Vehicle Electronics, as Runaway Toyotas Plague Roadways

March 9, 2010

(ChattahBox)—Toyota called a news conference on Monday to declare that the beleaguered automaker found no flaws in its vehicles’ electronics or software. The Japanese automaker’s announcement was hardly reassuring to millions of Toyota owners, as civil lawsuits against the company mushroom and more reports of out of control vehicles make it to the nightly news. And a U.S. congressional panel is continuing to exert pressure on Toyota executives to submit damaging internal documents to lawmakers, as they investigate the safety-related recalls.

Since Toyota was forced to recall more than 8 million vehicles worldwide for lethal accelerator problems nearly two-months ago, the automaker first attributed the cause of the sticky gas pedals to flawed floor mats. And later, when the problems continued, the company issued a larger recall for a dealership mechanical fix to the gas pedal. But problems persist, and questions remain about the electronic systems of the vehicles. Nearly 400,000 Toyota hybrid vehicles, including the Prius, have also been recalled for faulty brake systems.

Toyota called Monday’s news conference to discredit an independent study performed on its accelerator electronics, by David Gilbert, an auto engineering expert at Southern Illinois University. Gilbert found a flaw in the electronics, in which a safety fault code failed to generate. But Toyota hired its own expert to review Gilbert’s fundings and he declared them flawed. Chris Gerdes, a professor of mechanical engineering at Stanford and director of the university’s Center for Automotive Research, said Gilbert had essentially “rewired” Toyota’s accelerator system to produce his results. “Fundamentally, you cannot rewire a circuit and expect it to behave as designed,” Gerdes told reporters.

Toyota spokesman Mike Michels dismissed reports of vehicles experiencing sticky gas pedal problems, even after vehicles were repaired at a dealership under the recall, blaming the problems on flawed repair work. “We’re confident in our electronic throttle control systems,” Michels said.

Last month, Rep. Edolphus Towns (D-NY), chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee said that Toyota “deliberately withheld” evidence in lawsuits related to vehicle safety, exhibiting a “systematic disregard for the law.”

Runaway Toyota and Lexus vehicles have been linked to a number of fatalities and nearly 50 other crash deaths are being investigated.

See Reuters for more.


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