Toyota Calls Hoax On Runaway Prius In San Diego

March 15, 2010
Toyota's sudden acceleration problems seemed to get immeasurably worse last week when San Diego resident James Sikes' Prius appeared to accelerate uncontrollably, requiring assistance from a California Highway Patrol officer's car to come to a stop. The media frenzy that ensued spread the story to every corner of the Internet, TV and print worlds. But now it looks like the whole thing may have been a hoax.

Or a scam. Toyota (NYSE:TM) today revealed its preliminary official findings after investigating the incident and the car, coming to the conclusion tha the accelerator pedal was functioning normally, the front brakes showed severe wear and damage from overheating, the floormat in the car was the correct type but was not installed properly, the push-button start/stop switch worked properly, and that the shift lever also easily engaged neutral, as well as other factors that indicated nothing was at fault mechanically with the Prius involved. Toyota even tested the brakes to overheating and found that the car could still be stopped from high speeds.

The sum of these elements lead Toyota to conclude that there is no apparent reason for the problem itself, and that Mr. Sikes' account of events should be investigated further--a tacit way of saying that they don't believe a word he's saying. In its release, Toyota stated, "there are strong indications that the driver's account of the event is inconsistent with the findings of the preliminary analysis."

The release went on to state, "Toyota engineers believe that it would be extremely difficult for the Prius to be driven at a continuous high speed with more than light brake-pedal pressure, and that the assertion that the vehicle could not be stopped with the brakes is fundamentally inconsistent with basic vehicle design and the investigation observations."Clearly, Toyota is staking out its territory on the matter, but it remains to be seen if Sikes and/or independent investigators will be able to show that the "runaway Prius" was more than a Balloon Boy-like attention grab. For more details on Toyota's ongoing unintended acceleration issues, and the recalls surrounding them, check out the links below.We'll keep you up-to-the-minute on the situation as it develops. Read the full press release on page 2.

Toyota Sudden Acceleration: Is It All Older Drivers' Fault?2004-2008

Toyota Prius Recall Will Reshape Accelerator Pedal

NHTSA Has No Software Engineers or EEs To Analyze Toyotas

RECALL: 2010 Toyota Prius, Lexus HS250h For ABS Software Update

UPDATE: Braking Issue In 2010 Toyota Prius Hybrid, Recall TBD

Piling On: Problems With Prius Brakes Are Toyota's Latest Worry

Is Woz's Prius Acceleration Just Toyota's Wacky Adaptive Cruise?

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