Toyota won’t release findings of its acceleration probe until gov’t investigations are done

By Dan Strumpf, AP
Thursday, July 15, 2010

Toyota says acceleration probe far from finished

NEW YORK — Toyota Motor Corp. does not plan to release the results of its probe into complaints of unintended acceleration until the government finishes its own investigations, a Toyota spokesman said Thursday.

Toyota is “not anywhere near close” to drawing any firm conclusions from its examination of more than 2,000 complaints of surging cars, spokesman Mike Michels said. Several government agencies, including NASA and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, are conducting their own probes into complaints of unintended acceleration as well.

“It’s important to allow others … to complete their investigations without our findings providing any sort of influence,” Michels said.

NHTSA engineers and NASA scientists have been looking into cases of sudden acceleration in Toyotas and studying electronics in cars and trucks. Their investigation is expected to be completed in the fall.

In addition, the National Academy of Sciences is conducting a broader review of unintended acceleration in cars and trucks across the entire auto industry. The panel is expected to report its findings in the fall of 2011.

Earlier this week, The Wall Street Journal, citing anonymous sources, reported that the government had analyzed dozens of data recorders in Toyota vehicles involved in crashes blamed on unintended acceleration and found the throttles were open and the brakes were not engaged. That would suggest drivers were to blame, stepping on the gas pedal when they intended to step on the brakes.

Michels said Toyota has found a number of causes for unintended acceleration among the complaints it has investigated so far, including misplaced floormats or stacked floor mats and sticky pedals. Among complaints where the driver said the brake pedal was depressed, driver error was to blame in most cases, he said.

Toyota has recalled more than 8.5 million vehicles worldwide to address the possibility of unintended acceleration and to fix a braking problem in its Prius hybrid.

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