Network News

X My Profile
View More Activity
2.7%  Q1 GDP    4.57%  avg. 30-year mortgage     9.5%  Unemployment

Toyota launches massive engineering, PR counterattack on runaway acceleration

UPDATED with Gilbert's response at 5:01 p.m.:

Last month, auto engineering professor David Gilbert from Southern Illinois University rewired a Toyota Avalon to show how runaway acceleration could happen. His research appeared on ABC News, and he testified before a congressional panel, which ran with his research, saying it showed that Toyota may have overlooked an electronics problem when diagnosing its issues.

Today, the Toyota counterattack began.

In a news conference just concluded today at Toyota's Torrance, Calif., U.S. headquarters, officials from the company, an independent consultant and a Stanford University engineer analyzed Gilbert's experiment and concluded: No way, no how could this happen in the real world on its own.

"We did what Dr. Gilbert and ABC should have done to test the real-world relevance of Dr. Gilbert's findings," said Toyota spokesman Mike Michels. Gilbert's experiment was "completely unrealistic. He rewired and reengineered a vehicle in multiple ways in a specific sequence that is impossible to occur."

That sentiment was echoed by J. Christian Gerdes, associate professor of mechanical engineering at Stanford and the director of the school's Center for Automotive Research. Which, by the way, takes money from Toyota and a number of other automakers to fund its research.

In his experiment, Gilbert tapped some of the six wires that connect the gas pedal to the engine. Toyotas, like all modern vehicles, use an electronic linkage between the gas pedal and the engine, not a mechanical one, like older vehicles did.

The six wires make up two independent circuits -- two, for safety's sake -- that send signals to the engine when a driver steps on the gas. In his experiment, Gilbert tapped into these wires and bridged them to create a short circuit. Then, he applied a small voltage that caused the engine on his test vehicle to race, creating sudden acceleration. Finally, Gilbert noted, the Toyota's engine computer did not diagnose the experiment as a problem or issue an error code that could be seen. Because the situation did not produce an error message, the vehicle's fail-safe system -- which would cut power to the engine in such a situation -- did not engage.

Click here to see Toyota's slide show on how it duplicated Gilbert's experiment.

Toyota countered Gilbert today in two main ways:

a) By saying that engineers can rewire and reengineer anything to make it fail. "We could rewire this building and cause it to go into flames," said Subodh Medhekar, the principal engineer with Exponent, the outside company Toyota has hired to diagnose the runaway acceleration problem.

b) By using Gilbert's same technique to rewire several non-Toyotas and achieve the same result. Into the room where the news briefing was held today, Toyota had driven a Ford Fusion, a Chevrolet Malibu, a Chrysler Town & Country and Crossfire, a Subaru Outback, a BMW 325 and other vehicles. During the briefing, officials from Toyota turned on the vehicles and reproduced Gilbert's experiment. Each time, the engine raced and no error message was seen on diagnostic tools.

"Dr. Gilbert's demonstration is not evidence of a design flaw or a safety risk in Toyota or any other manufacturers' vehicles," said Shukri Souri, an electronics expert with Exponent.

Here's is Gilbert's response in full, e-mailed to me a few moments ago:

"I am pleased to have had the opportunity to view today’s Webinar presented by Toyota and to read the Exponent Research evaluation of my preliminary report. Over the next several days, I will examine their expanded results and conclusions along with my own. I will visit Exponent next week to get a first-hand look at the information presented today and discuss their methods and procedures. I hope to complete my review all the information within the next few weeks I am pleased that further examination of these safety and acceleration issues is taking place and I look forward to participating in this process. I am committed to working with industry, government and other interest parties and hope to provide more conclusive opinions and input as more research and analysis is completed."

Toyota then attacked the ABC News report, noting that when the ABC camera showed the engine racing in Gilbert's experiment, the vehicle was parked. Vehicles operate very differently in operation and under load, Toyota said. When parked, and Gilbert's experiment was run, the Avalon's tachometer raced to 6,200 rpm. When the experiment was performed while the Avalon was being driven, the tachometer raced to 3,000 rpm. At Toyota's request, ABC News removed the first video from the online news clip.

Toyota was asked about the 80-some reported cases of runaway acceleration in vehicles that had already been recalled and supposedly fixed. Toyota has recalled more than 6 million vehicles for runaway acceleration. A company official said that Toyota was aware of those reports and had been able to verify only a few of them. (Largely because when owners post complaints about their vehicles on the Web site of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, they may not leave contact information.) Among those that Toyota had been able to track down, the company believes the recurring runaway acceleration was caused by improperly performed recall repairs.

Toyota expressed how confident it is -- repeatedly expressed, in fact -- that the runaway acceleration problem is not an electronic one. Even when asked if the company thought it had a software problem, Toyota said it was confident that was not the case. Nevertheless, Exponent is looking into Toyota software (as is NHTSA).

The software issue has been called by some "the ghost in the machine."

When asked specifically about this, Toyota's Kristen Tabar, general manager of electronics systems, said something that may come back to haunt her and the company: "There isn't a ghost issue out there."

Follow me on Twitter at @theticker

By Frank Ahrens  |  March 8, 2010; 5:01 PM ET
Categories:  Autos , Congress , Corporations , The Ticker  | Tags: David Gilbert, Runaway acceleration, Toyota problems, toyota, toyota congressional hearings, unintended acceleration  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Stocks open week up slightly
Next: Stocks celebrate anniversary of 2009 bottom by opening lower

Comments

so, it was all just a silly figment of your immagination.

Posted by: maphound | March 8, 2010 4:10 PM | Report abuse

Toyota's denials won't bring 56 victims back to life ("At least 56 people have died in Sudden Unintended Acceleration accidents", http://articles.latimes.com/2010/feb/28/business/la-fiw-toyota-deaths-list28-2010feb28 ).

Posted by: hairguy01 | March 8, 2010 4:15 PM | Report abuse

Gee I'm glad all those who died in toyotas and lexus were just spoofs and not real.Is this waht Toyota and Lexus want us to believe ?A safe vehicle??How many more Americans will be fooled or killed.

Posted by: dcg326 | March 8, 2010 4:15 PM | Report abuse

i'm shocked... you mean to tell me a tv news program owned by an enormous conglomerate (disney in this instance) didn't fact-check so they could sell their shock-news to the unwitting american people?...oh wait that happens everyday.

Posted by: anti-elitist | March 8, 2010 4:18 PM | Report abuse

He who pays for this type of testing gets the results he wants.

Posted by: gmclain | March 8, 2010 4:24 PM | Report abuse

Toyota is gambling by coming out as strongly as it has, and by its fixed certainty that the runaway engines are not caused by flawed electronics. They still haven't come up with a believable reason for all of the deaths attributable to runaway engines. They have a reputation, long held, for discounting customer complaints and queries. They haven't convinced me of any sincerity on their part. I'll think long and hard before I ever buy another Toyota product.

Posted by: Diogenes | March 8, 2010 4:28 PM | Report abuse

it will be interesting to see the response, but Toyota's logic and demonstration are hard to answer. If Gilbert's experiment works on any car, then we are still in search of an explanation along with Toyota.

Posted by: JoeT1 | March 8, 2010 4:29 PM | Report abuse

Much more convincing than Gilbert's work. Not an electronics issue.

Of course, the possibility for unintended acceleration exists in any car, and Ford, in particular, had more reports of this than Toyota, prior to the media circus.

http://blog.caranddriver.com/toyota-recall-scandal-media-circus-and-stupid-drivers-editorial/

Posted by: staticvars | March 8, 2010 4:30 PM | Report abuse

When anyone says "we have no software problems", you know that they are lying, because there are ALWAYS software problems.

Toyota automobiles contain 3 times more software code than modern fighter jets and yet they undergo far less software testing. It's a recipe for disaster.

Anyone with any software experience can tell you that software products produced on a regular schedule are always bug-filled. There is just no time to fix them before the product has to ship. There is NO WAY that Toyota will hold back the release of a new automobile due to software issues. There are too many parties that are relying on prompt shipment. Out the door they go, bugs and all.

Posted by: frantaylor | March 8, 2010 4:31 PM | Report abuse

This actually seems to be bad news for Toyota. If what they say is true, then that means they still have to find out what's wrong with their cars.

Posted by: JimZ1 | March 8, 2010 4:31 PM | Report abuse

It is incorrect that "all modern vehicles" have no throttle cable.

Posted by: BQUICK | March 8, 2010 4:34 PM | Report abuse

In my family we have had six Toyotas over the years. All have been excellent cars. However, these problems are real, and I doubt if all of them are caused by driver error.

Once again, I wish to say that if "something" happens in the software on a limited and irregular fashion, it will take luck and/or a stud software jockey to catch it. Might it not be better to start from zero and write new software? Adding on, patching, etc. could leave the problem untouched.

Posted by: rusty3 | March 8, 2010 4:36 PM | Report abuse

"It is incorrect that 'all modern vehicles' have no throttle cable."

If your car has an automatic transmission, even a very old one, there is a mechanism that adjusts the throttle when the automatic transmission shifts.

Get a clue. You are not really driving your car. When you press on the gas pedal, you are making a suggestion to the engine system, which may or may not honor your request.

This has been the case for many, many years. It's just that the old mechanical arrangement was more reliable.

Posted by: frantaylor | March 8, 2010 4:42 PM | Report abuse

Proving that a particular scenario is not the cause of the unintended acceleration problem does not prove that the problem doesn't exist. It only proves that the cause is still unknown. And continuing to argue that every driver who has experienced this somehow caused it through inexperience is ridiculous.

I don't know what public relations "experts" Toyota is using, but frankly their continued efforts to nitpick about this is not at all reassuring, and is doing nothing toward helping the company reclaim its reputation for quality and safety. It would be a much better (if more costly) step to simply say that they can't determine the exact cause of the problem, so they are retrofitting vehicles with "brake override" technology to counter it.

Perhaps it is time for our government to step in and require a "brake override" system on any vehicle that uses an electronic throttle connection. After all, if this safety feature is installed, it might prevent an occurrence that requires the other mandated safety features (such as crumple zones and air bags) to function on not only the vehicle in question, but possibly on several other vehicles as well.

Posted by: alert4jsw | March 8, 2010 4:44 PM | Report abuse

I don't like Toyota's response on the entire matter.
It's like Exxon's response to the oil spill in Alaska.

The company may still build good cars but I don't intend to ever consider buying one again.

I have also never bought Exxon gas since it's stupid actions.

Toyota should be studied in business schools as a text book case of what not to do.

Posted by: sufi66 | March 8, 2010 4:50 PM | Report abuse

It seems a little over the top to get so worked up about the number of deaths involved (56) out of the number of cars (6,000,000). This rate (1:107,000) is less than the rate of people who die annually from rabies (1:91,000 worldwide - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rabies). Yes, every death is a tragedy, but put some perspective on the matter. More folks probably died from drinking and driving Toyotas than did from 'unintended acceleration'. Regarding the acceleration issue, Car and Driver magazine addressed this issue in their December 2009 issue (http://www.caranddriver.com/features/09q4/how_to_deal_with_unintended_acceleration-tech_dept). In their tests, even a 500+ horsepower sports car was able to stop in less than 1/4 mile when the accelerator was floored at 100 miles per hour. These folks claiming to have gone for miles (one lady claimed a 6+ mile ride of terror) sure weren't using their brakes, or more than the accelerator was broken on her car.

Posted by: Mojoxer | March 8, 2010 4:54 PM | Report abuse

56 idit0's have been killed. That about sums it up. If the car takes off put it in neutral. Guess what the car stops moving. Poor driver training leads to death.

Posted by: askgees | March 8, 2010 4:59 PM | Report abuse

I've been saying all along that Gilbert proved absolutely nothing by rewiring the Toyota. By the scientific and journalistic standards shown by ABC and Gilbert, I could wire a sink disposal to a wireless remote and claim that it's possible for the disposal to turn on and off on its own.

Posted by: Left_of_the_Pyle | March 8, 2010 5:03 PM | Report abuse

More flim flam. The point of the experiment is that electromagnetic impulses or surges can cause throttle movement and therefore sudden acceleration. Showing the other models doesn't pove anything as each has different shielding of the throttle. It also doesn't help that these folks are on the Toyota dole.

Posted by: bob29 | March 8, 2010 5:04 PM | Report abuse

The real problem in this case is that "unintended acceleration" has been a problem in vehicles for decades. It's nothing unique to Toyota, and in the past it has almost always been a problem of driver error. Car makers try to limit driver error through smart design options like larger brake pedals and smaller gas pedals, but nobody can prevent all drivers from making mistakes.

The kicker in this Toyota case is that at least one case and maybe more appear to have been caused by something other than driver error, and neither the NHTSA nor Toyota knows what the cause is. Toyota's recall made no sense to me because they can't "fix" something when they don't know what the problem is in the first place.

Ninety percent of this is a media-induced storm that is on par with the Chilean grape scare and Alar apple scare. The real risk to millions of Toyota drivers is very, very low. There does seem to be a real risk, though, and Toyota seems unable to figure it out. Obviously this rewiring gimmick that ABC's scientist used was a non-explanation, and Toyota is right to chide ABC for pushing the claim when it had not been verified, but this still leaves the burden on Toyota to explain exactly what the problem is, and they don't have an answer.

Posted by: blert | March 8, 2010 5:06 PM | Report abuse

Here is the simple solution until Toyota comes clean: QUIT BUYING THE DAMN PRODUCT!!!!!!!!!!! TFL, Ken

Posted by: kentigereyes | March 8, 2010 5:07 PM | Report abuse

Why do I get sent to a blog when I click on a Washington "Post" headline? Nothing personal, but I have no idea who the author of this blog is or whether any editor or other adult has looked at this article. Is firing journalists and hiring inexpensive bloggers the way the Post finally had a profitable quarter? If so, the Post should simply fold its tent and go home - it's no longer a newspaper.

Posted by: willowglen | March 8, 2010 5:10 PM | Report abuse

I don't like Toyota's response on the entire matter.
It's like Exxon's response to the oil spill in Alaska.

The company may still build good cars but I don't intend to ever consider buying one again.

I have also never bought Exxon gas since it's stupid actions.

Toyota should be studied in business schools as a text book case of what not to do.

Posted by: sufi66 | March 8, 2010 4:50 PM | Report abuse


LOL yes by all means just stand still. No need to continue innovating. Good thing people like you play no real role in the world or we would still be driving horse and buggies. More than 56 people we're murdered across the US over the weekend. Try keeping things in prospective.

Posted by: askgees | March 8, 2010 5:14 PM | Report abuse

I don't like Toyota's response on the entire matter.
It's like Exxon's response to the oil spill in Alaska.

The company may still build good cars but I don't intend to ever consider buying one again.

I have also never bought Exxon gas since it's stupid actions.

Toyota should be studied in business schools as a text book case of what not to do.

Posted by: sufi66

***********************************************************************

Bingo. I still avoid Exxon like the plague since their irresponsible actions and consequent tone deaf response. They permanently lost a customer and Toyota is barreling down that path in a burst of speed here as well.

I don't care to hear PR nitpicking I want to hear an apology and a solution. Sure the cross wire thing is a generic trigger, so you can tell us it wasn't that. So what is it?? Can you fix it if you don't know? Keep being combative and all your brands are off my test drive list.

Posted by: theobserver4 | March 8, 2010 5:15 PM | Report abuse

"You bought a Toyota? What a lame car."

"Yeah, they'll never win any excitement contests, but Toyotas don't break."

Well, you can scratch that conversation. Toyota has really blown it. There are too many reports of acceleration that wasn't mechanical in nature for the company to be believed.

Dozens of these cars have developed the problem AFTER being modified in the recall. I've read about Toyotas that have accelerated, and wouldn't slow down even when the driver shifted to neutral and tried to use the brakes.

Toyota, come clean!

Posted by: MagicDog1 | March 8, 2010 5:17 PM | Report abuse

Shoot Obama should get these Toyota guys to sell his healthcare plan.

Posted by: Obamasnotyamama | March 8, 2010 5:22 PM | Report abuse

"Shoot Obama should get these Toyota guys to sell his healthcare plan."

-----

It was only a matter of time until some wingnut came here and tried to blame it on Obama!

Posted by: MagicDog1 | March 8, 2010 5:24 PM | Report abuse

One area that they need to investigate is to demonstrate that the control computer can properly handle simultaneous interrupts.

A colleague of mine who is an expert in high reliability software systems once took over a system that went haywire and killed people. He found that when simultaneous interrupts arrived from devices, one was lost instead of being properly queued and handled. The system lost track of its state, in this case the blood temperature in kidney dialysis, and people died as a result.

I can easily imagine the Toyota control computer losing track of the engine speed because of just such a situation. You can inspect the cars forever and not find this kind of problem. You don't need frayed wires or crossed circuits. All you need is a subtle software bug that can only be found by an expert in high reliability fly-by-wire and similar systems.

Posted by: StanKlein | March 8, 2010 5:36 PM | Report abuse

Dr. Gilbert better be ready for a full court attack on him and his ideas.

I saw something similar to this years ago when another very large auto manufacturer had a series of deaths allegedly caused by the breaking of the "motor mounts" in their engines.

In defense of their cases, they would have an engineer from Detroit drive a "similar" car to the courthouse, and park it in the parking lot. Then they would tell the jury, in the engineer's testimony, that he drove all the way with a 'broken motor mount."

Of course, the case involved a young women, under 25 years old, who was driving the car when it allegedly "accelerated greatly" and she lost control hiting a tree.

She was an "average driver," not a highly trained and knowledgeable engineer.

Posted by: Robe2 | March 8, 2010 5:38 PM | Report abuse

Most likely the acceleration problem is due to UAW sabotage designed to ruin Toyota and thereby increase the value of UAW's GM stock holdings...

Posted by: pmendez | March 8, 2010 5:39 PM | Report abuse

"Most likely the acceleration problem is due to UAW sabotage designed to ruin Toyota and thereby increase the value of UAW's GM stock holdings."

------

No doubt, assisted by the same alien who landed in Roswell, New Mexico in 1948! Oh, and Lee Harvey Oswald. I mean the guy who was shot was a stunt double, you see ...

Posted by: MagicDog1 | March 8, 2010 5:41 PM | Report abuse

WillowGlen: I hate to break it to you, but this is NOT a newspaper!

It's a website.

Easy ways to tell the difference include: newspapers make your hands dirty, newspapers go "thunk" on your front walk in the morning, and newspapers don't go away when you're finished reading them!

Posted by: pmendez | March 8, 2010 5:41 PM | Report abuse

dear on line editor, Toyota ussye must be analyzed with a brilliant and penetrating brain cells which is capable to know how acceleration takes place in any car and under what curcumstabces a car can accelerate.The process of acceleration is thefuction of the systen but under the control of the driver only.There can not be any automatic acceleartion in any vehicle with out the knowledge of the drver runnig it.Here the complint is that the vehicle automatcally acceleates with out the driver doing anything hence it is onsidered a builtin defect during assembly/manufacturng statge which needs to be corrected dated February 09th 2010 Time 0417Hrs ist AM

Posted by: pillaipmg | March 8, 2010 5:45 PM | Report abuse

I would have no problem driving a Toyota. You can't make any machine perfectly safe. I should of been killed more times than I care to think about. The danger of a Toyota is nothing compared with the death traps I've had to operate with. Press the NOx button and then it gets fun. Run away acceleration costs extra. I need a road trip.

Posted by: tossnokia | March 8, 2010 5:46 PM | Report abuse

Toyota's claims may well be right. Nevertheless, their effort smells like a coverup. No matter how the accelerator got stuck, the real question is why people died? Why is Toyota's control system not able to always leave the driver with a way to get control over their car even in the case of a single failure like the accelerator sticking? The other question is whether the accelerator problem is the only one? The problem I heard described by a very credible woman in a BBC video almost certainly was a severe failure of Lexus electronics. As a long time Toyota buyer, I am negatively impressed by Toyota's continued effort to explain away their problems and not focus on the unsatisfactory performance of their design for their automobile's control system.

Posted by: dnjake | March 8, 2010 5:47 PM | Report abuse

I know for a fact that UAW had nothing to do with Roswell. Flying saucer workers on Mars have even cushier contracts than Detroit. But the Teamsters did manage to organize the alien pilots. That's why you can't find the Roswell aliens -- they're buried along with Jimmy Hoffa!

Posted by: pmendez | March 8, 2010 5:47 PM | Report abuse

This was expected and is not a surprise.

Would Toyota come forward and say, “Yes, Stanford University professor also agrees”?

They are hiding and have not disclosed the problems they knew for years. They biting time and people should make up minds if they want to purchase a Toyota.

Nobody is stopping anybody!!

Posted by: 68b2b | March 8, 2010 5:48 PM | Report abuse

I'm curious.

Why is it that a problem that affects one in every 107,000 Toyotas (maybe) is suddenly elevated into a Major Threat, Congress investigates it, and bloggers everywhere are urging people to boycott Toyota?

Why is it that when Ford or Chrysler has the same problem, it's mentioned in a small article on page 10 of the paper, and there's no outcry for a recall?

Could these phenomena *possibly* have something to do with the fact that Toyota outsells everyone else?

Why is it that "when owners post complaints about their vehicles on the Web site of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, they may not leave contact information"? Are they really owners complaining about a real problem, or fake complaints coming from one of the U.S. automakers' PR machine?

I ask because, in my entire life, I have owned only 4 vehicles -- 3 Corollas and a 4-Runner (the current car). One of them was recalled once for an electrical problem, which was promptly fixed. The others were remarkably trouble-free and ran for, respectively, 110,000, 245,000, and 273,000-and-still-counting miles.

Posted by: PLozar | March 8, 2010 5:49 PM | Report abuse

The article points a light into an obvious hole, although it is likely an unrelated side issue. Why does the NHTSA not require contact info? You can complain, perhaps even falsely if you wish; but you don't have to provide the details needed to diagnose and fix your asserted problem.

Posted by: juggernautenterprises | March 8, 2010 6:03 PM | Report abuse

keep the bad publicity coming. I am going to trade my 2006 Toyota in for a new one and this will help me get a better deal! Never did anything but change oil and put in gas for 100,000 miles.

Posted by: djrhood | March 8, 2010 6:08 PM | Report abuse

There's not enough incidents of "unintended accleration" in Toyota vehicles to make a sensible argument that "they" have a systemic problem.

Most Toyota drivers, including me, have had zero incidences of this worrisome event. I have sympathy for the people and their familes who were injured or killed in ANY type of accident, their own fault or otherwise.

There is simply not enough empirical data to argue that Toyota has a real problem that needs to be fixed. If there is something wrong with drive-by-wire gas pedals, then ALL makers of cars have a BIG issue they will all need to fix.

This especially goes for the disparate claims made by some that Corollas suddenly lose steering control. It's far more likely that there's a logical fault in terms of alignment, air pressure in tires, worn tires, or other maintenance related issues.

It sounds more likely that the stupid and greedy of this world are trying to make a buck off Toyota's hide.

Posted by: misterbumbles | March 8, 2010 6:16 PM | Report abuse

56 idit0's have been killed. That about sums it up. If the car takes off put it in neutral. Guess what the car stops moving. Poor driver training leads to death.

Posted by: askgees | March 8, 2010 4:59 PM


_________________________________________

RIGHT ON!

Posted by: misterbumbles | March 8, 2010 6:21 PM | Report abuse

"No matter how the accelerator got stuck, the real question is why people died? Why is Toyota's control system not able to always leave the driver with a way to get control over their car even in the case of a single failure like the accelerator sticking?

Posted by: dnjake | March 8, 2010 5:47 PM"

--------------

My Toyota has just such a failsafe. It's called a gearshift.

Why have I not had my recall work done yet? Because I'm not a flippin' idiot who can't shift to neutral and I've got better things to do.

When I'm due for an oil change, I'll call the dealer and negotiate a price for the oil change similar to where I would normally take it and then have them do that and the recall work at the same time.

Posted by: Left_of_the_Pyle | March 8, 2010 6:22 PM | Report abuse

For real extra danger you need an off road trip. That's where you get the beer, the girlfriend and the truck and head out into the woods. You find terrain that is steep and muddy and go climb it while wondering if the thing is going to get sideways and or upside down. Possibly multiple times. The beer will make you less concerned about it and improve chances of getting lucky with the girlfriend if you don't kill her or both of yourselves. The downside is a scared and frightened woman can get you nervous too. The there's the problem with relationships when you are always on the verge of some accident, that was preventable, because you wanted to have fun out in the woods.

Posted by: tossnokia | March 8, 2010 6:24 PM | Report abuse

It seems to me that the media is going to do absolutuel anything to discredit Toyota and their efforts to fix the problem acceleration that some of their vehicles are experiencing. By publishing the so-called "testing" that "Dr." Gilbert and Stanford University cooked up, media malpractice has even entered the picture. Let them repair the problem. I know because they are non-union they have a target on their backs, but why don't we wait untill all of the facts are in. I am considering buying new Toyota trucks for my business and nothing the media can cook up will make me change my opinion. To get these high gas economy standards, you just can't use the old mechanical peddals etc.

Posted by: ROYSTOLL2 | March 8, 2010 6:25 PM | Report abuse

I have a solution. Run a cable from the gas peddle to the fuel pump. When the gas peddle is depressed the cable causes the fuel pump to increase the flow to the engine. It worked for a hundred years or so.

Sometimes the simple solution is the best solution.

Posted by: rickstrgzr | March 8, 2010 6:32 PM | Report abuse

Talk about a smoke and mirrors performance aimed at delayin' a resolution. The tobacco companies have now been upstaged by Toyota.

http://uc2.blogspot.com

Posted by: ParrisBoyd | March 8, 2010 6:38 PM | Report abuse

the story reads, "The six wires make up two independent circuits -- two, for safety's sake -- that send signals to the engine when a driver steps on the gas. In his experiment, Gilbert tapped into these wires and bridged them to create a short circuit. Then, he applied a small voltage that caused the engine on his test vehicle to race, creating sudden acceleration. Finally, Gilbert noted, the Toyota's engine computer did not diagnose the experiment as a problem or issue an error code that could be seen. Because the situation did not produce an error message, the vehicle's fail-safe system -- which would cut power to the engine in such a situation -- did not engage."

-------------------------------------

what was ommitted from the article; ".... not wanting to lose, gilbert then used a blow torch on the circuits. they still wouldn't fail. one pound of c-4 explosive was then tied to the circuit with a bungie cord. from 3,000 feet away, the c-4 was detonated, sending the toyota avalon 25 feet in the air. the toyota landed, and the fail safe circuit on the accelerator did not engage. gilbert then had a large city crane raise the toyota some 400 feet into the air. several f-16 fighter jets launched air to air missiles striking the toyota sending it bursting into flames.. and the circuit still would not engage. gilbert gave the signal, and the crane dropped the toyota from 400 feet straight down to the concrete below. the toyota created a crater some 80 feet in diameter, but the fail safe circuit still didn't engage indicating an error. quoting gilbert as he scratched his head, "dang... i supposed we could try hitting it with a nuclear warhead tipped cruise missile... get the president on the phone... i'll ask him if there's a b-52 flying some live nukes across the country by mistake.. there's gotta be a couple we can borrow..."

Posted by: AuthoritativeAuthoritarian | March 8, 2010 6:39 PM | Report abuse

The media is just covering it. Lift kit, bigger tires, engine tweaking and getting it covered with mud is what I'm thinking about. The risk is getting stuck, which is the fun of it. Take a winch along and don't forget beer.

Posted by: tossnokia | March 8, 2010 6:39 PM | Report abuse

Deactivate drive by wire and cruise control and see if the
problem continues. Test cars recently fixed with the pedal
solution that have exhibited the runaway acceleration problem again and then see if it happens. Then activate cruise control again and see if the runaway acceleration happens. If it doesn't then it's drive by wire. Either way only through testing can the problem's root cause be found.

Posted by: blakesouthwood | March 8, 2010 6:40 PM | Report abuse

Another solution is a master control that can override the
current slave control so that the slave control can be bypassed by the master control that must have it's own separate control of the brake and gas pedal and acceleration. Just like on the new VW GTIs there are actually 2 clutch mechanisms the Toyotas should have two independent systems to control breaking and acceleration so that if one goes haywire it can be bypassed and cut off it's connection to the gas and brake.

Posted by: blakesouthwood | March 8, 2010 6:44 PM | Report abuse

Welcome to Toyota where nothing can go wrong
can go wrong
can go wrong
can go wrong

Posted by: jvbutcher | March 8, 2010 6:45 PM | Report abuse

Toyota's denials won't bring 56 victims back to life ("At least 56 people have died in Sudden Unintended Acceleration accidents", http://articles.latimes.com/2010/feb/28/business/la-fiw-toyota-deaths-list28-2010feb28 ).
--------------------------------------
40,000 people die on US roads every year. Those 56 were over several years. Which is the bigger problem?

Posted by: Emmetrope | March 8, 2010 6:47 PM | Report abuse

I was thinking take the shotgun and .45 for blasting fun...well C4 could prove entertaining too. You find old trucks in the woods that didn't make it out. Blew the engine or tranny conked out and can't exactly call a flatbed.

Posted by: tossnokia | March 8, 2010 6:48 PM | Report abuse


toyota should install nitrous oxide kits on these cars that kick in when the accelerator sticks.

like the def leppard song, "it's better to burn out that fade away...."

Posted by: AuthoritativeAuthoritarian | March 8, 2010 6:49 PM | Report abuse

I travel extensively and you would think out of 14 million vehicles I would see a few of those in a corn field...

Posted by: p7adair | March 8, 2010 6:50 PM | Report abuse

toyota should install nitrous oxide kits on these cars that kick in when the accelerator sticks.

like the def leppard song, "it's better to burn out that fade away...."

little johnny; "hey mommy?"

mommy; "yes, johnny?"

little johnny; "what was that bright streak that just went across the sky?"

mommy; "i believe that was toyota avalon.."

little johnny; "oh."

Posted by: AuthoritativeAuthoritarian | March 8, 2010 6:53 PM | Report abuse

I'm sure the other manufacturers who have already installed brake override systems really don't know what they're doing either. And certainly there's no reason why Toyota should install one. No, if you should ever happen to see a car racing down the road with its brakes shooting flames, just avert your eyes.

Posted by: laboo | March 8, 2010 6:54 PM | Report abuse

"My Toyota has just such a failsafe. It's called a gearshift. Why have I not had my recall work done yet? Because I'm not a flippin' idiot who can't shift to neutral"

You'll BE the flippin' idiot when you're going 80 and find out the car IGNORES your shifting into neutral. The computer OVERRIDES your shift because throwing the tranny into neutral at high speed "will damage the transmission". When the computer doesn't allow it, of course, it will hurt YOU worse than the transmission.

Don't believe me, shift your Toy into neutral at 80 and see if it actually freewheels. Proof's in the pudding.

Posted by: laboo | March 8, 2010 6:58 PM | Report abuse

Toyota is calling those drivers whose "fixed" cars still misbehave total liars. Maybe their next solution will be to sue the dead drivers saying they slandered a good car via. their deaths.

Posted by: george11 | March 8, 2010 7:01 PM | Report abuse

I'm all for C4, NOx, bourbon, loud music, fast times and slow death. People are going to get hurt, or killed. The kids ski free and outside it's America! Find the double diamond hill and plunge down it with wreck less abandon. Chances are your Toyota will get stolen and there will be a room at the inn so light a fire and let the good times roll.

Posted by: tossnokia | March 8, 2010 7:02 PM | Report abuse

So we see that movement (linear perhaps) of the gas pedal causes one section of the car computer to demand more gasoline into the engine. There are international and national standards organizations that do an extremely good job of developing standards to ensure safety and functionality of electrical systems like this. Ask them to develop a safety standard for accelerator input (software and hardware) to a car computer and then demand that all vehicles sold in the USA meet this standard. It has been done for many different types of sensors and computer applications and should be achievable for this application.

Posted by: Coach_1 | March 8, 2010 7:02 PM | Report abuse

NEWSFLASH - Toyota has just announced that they are buying back all models of their car that have problems with random acts of acceleration. When asked why, Mr Toyoda said his marketers have created a new game show where they put racing strips and numbers on 200 affected vehicles at a time and turn them loose in a large Japanese parking lot. The last one running wins an all expense 3 day / 2 night trip to Bakersfield, California.

Film at 11

Posted by: AuthoritativeAuthoritarian | March 8, 2010 7:06 PM | Report abuse

Does anyone realise how easy it is to push both the brake and gas pedals at the same time in a Camry?

I owned a 2007 Camry, luckily with manual transmission. Throughout my three years of driving the car, I pressed both the gas and brake pedals when coming to a stop, with my right foot, atleast seven times. At least two of those incidences were "panic stops".

The first time it happened the engine reved to 5000 RPM and I wondered what was wrong with the car? But, instinctively I kept my foot planted on the brake. If it had been an automatic, the car would have gone through the stop, right into the intersection, perhaps up a curb.

The brake pedal (I can only speak for my car) traveled further down than the Corolla models I was accustomed to driving. I found it was easy enough, if not being diligent, to angle your foot and consequently end up depressing the gas pedal while applying the brakes.

Certainly, I don't point a finger at Toyota, as it was my ineptitude as a driver, not the car's design.

But I'd put money on the liklihood that what some of the Camry/Lexus/Avalon drivers who complained about "surging" is attributable to clumsy feet, not a sticky pedal.

Posted by: misterbumbles | March 8, 2010 7:07 PM | Report abuse

You'll BE the flippin' idiot when you're going 80 and find out the car IGNORES your shifting into neutral. The computer OVERRIDES your shift because throwing the tranny into neutral at high speed "will damage the transmission". When the computer doesn't allow it, of course, it will hurt YOU worse than the transmission.

Don't believe me, shift your Toy into neutral at 80 and see if it actually freewheels. Proof's in the pudding.

Posted by: laboo | March 8, 2010 6:58 PM

_____________________________________

Car and Driver Magazine got their Camry into neutral and also managed to stop the car with the car in gear and revving, using the brakes.

Posted by: misterbumbles | March 8, 2010 7:12 PM | Report abuse

Bakersfield or bust. I'm drinking Canada Dry and Kentucky too. Might end up in Pottersfield. It's a wonderful life. You guys worry about the Toyota and wife for me. Enjoy the Crisis and Paine.

Posted by: tossnokia | March 8, 2010 7:16 PM | Report abuse

Kind of reminds me of the 747 that went down off Long Island 12 or so years back because of an explosion in its fuselage fuel tank. It was concluded that frayed electrical cables running through the vapor of the partially filled tank caused it to explode. All kinds of "terrorist" theories gushed out until the cause became clear and some folk versions of them are still held.

Boeing stonewalled, as corporations nearly always do, but quitely went ahead with a program to retrofit (read "recall") all similar Boeing aircraft. This, of course, was not acompanied by any admission of error or responsibility. Familiar??

Posted by: Coruscator | March 8, 2010 7:26 PM | Report abuse

"[Toyota's statements today] validate our findings that their failsafe system does not always detect critical errors or go into failsafe mode as [Toyota] has claimed." -Safety Research & Strategies, Inc., Toyota Unintended Acceleration Complaints Update, http://www.safetyresearch.net/2010/03/08/response-to-toyota-and-exponent/

Posted by: hairguy01 | March 8, 2010 7:38 PM | Report abuse

Really folks. If given the choice between buying a car that doesn't have dangerous safety issues in question, or buying a car where the makers still have severe safety issues in dispute...which one would you choose, and which one would you prefer your loved ones drive?....Buy American.

Posted by: logcabin1836 | March 8, 2010 7:41 PM | Report abuse

Does anyone even realise how stupid most drivers really are. When I come to a two way stop and there's someone wanting to make a left turn, more than a few times I've been cut off by them "taking their turn" first. I was going straight trough the intersection, they were turning left; but they got there "first" so they treat like a four-way stop.

Remember the recent articles about how many people cannot pass the written portion of the driver's test?

Why would so many of you give credence to the claims of peple you don't even know and who may in fact be dumber than a rock in the parking lot? Just because they can afford to buy a Lexus, doesn't mean they're fit to drive one.

Posted by: misterbumbles | March 8, 2010 7:41 PM | Report abuse


didn't George Bailey invest in toyota while his buddy invested in plastics during ww II?

:|

Posted by: AuthoritativeAuthoritarian | March 8, 2010 7:46 PM | Report abuse

It's a phony union/democrat crook,hit job on a non union company. It= more people who've lost jobs and will vote against Bozo and the socialists. Never interrupt while your enemy is destroying himself.

Posted by: carlbatey | March 8, 2010 7:49 PM | Report abuse

With enough money a company can assemble "independent" experts to tell us that smoking does not cause cancer, that global warming is not happening.....

That might work except there is the problem of a few internal Toyota memos as reported in the LA Times....

"The House Oversight Committee wants to look at a 2006 memo from company employees to Toyota senior management that raised concerns the automaker was taking shortcuts on safety.

In the memo, first reported Monday by the Los Angeles Times, the employees said they were concerned the processes used to build safe cars might be "ultimately ignored."

The employees warned that if Toyota failed to act, it could "become a great problem that involves the company's survival." AP

Posted by: mcdcl2 | March 8, 2010 7:51 PM | Report abuse

Toyota has told so many lies,they dont know what the truth is any more.They took Lexus and turn it into junk.Lexus work just fine until Toyota JAP IT UP.now it can't stop.Just come clean

Posted by: apez54 | March 8, 2010 8:02 PM | Report abuse

50%off ca,ed hardy t-shirt$15 jeans,coach handbag$33,air max90,dunk,polo t-shirt$13,,lacoste t-shirt $13 air jordan for sale,$35,nfl nba jersy for sale

free shipping
accept paypal credit card
lower price fast shippment with higher quality

our website: http://www.b2b2.us

http://www.nflshops.us

lower price fast shippment with higher quality
BEST QUALITY GUARANTEE!!

SAFTY & HONESTY GUARANTEE!!

FAST & PROMPT DELIVERY GUARANTEE!!

Packing: All the products are packed with original boxes and tags also retro cards/ code
numder

Features: AAA QUALITY, COMPETITIVE PRICE AND SERVICE
1) The goods are shipping by air express, such as EMS,the shipping time is in 5-7 business days
2) They are in stock now;
3) Various styles and color for clients' choice
4) The Products are fit for most people, because of our wholesale price

ugg45$ puma gucci$35,nike jordans six ring,yeezy$%5!!

new era caps$13 gucci handbags jeans,t-shirts sunglass,caps

true religion jeans$35,ca,ed hardy jeans$35,nfl jerseys$20

LV,CHANAL,HANDBAGS$35

NIKE SHOX+AIR MAX+TL3+OZ+NZ ONLY $35

UGG TIMBLAND+LACOSTE SHOES+ED HARDY SHOES$35

DIESEL T-SHIRT,GSTAR T-SHIRT,CA T-SHIRT,50% OFF FOR SALE $15

DIOR SUNGLASS,DG SUNGLASS$15

our website: http://www.b2b2.us

Posted by: nikejordans1 | March 8, 2010 8:03 PM | Report abuse

You'll BE the flippin' idiot when you're going 80 and find out the car IGNORES your shifting into neutral. The computer OVERRIDES your shift because throwing the tranny into neutral at high speed "will damage the transmission".

--------

Completely untrue.

Posted by: hitpoints | March 8, 2010 8:24 PM | Report abuse

Sadly this rhetoric PR will backfire on Toyota.

This panel violated the companies own Total Quality Assurance (TQA ) system guidelines and you will note that thee was not one representative of TQA management at the panel.

The stupidity of doing this type of show and tell with your competitors products as a backdrop is beyond understanding.

This is exactly the same behavior that got a great company in the trouble it is in today

Posted by: Ideapete | March 8, 2010 8:28 PM | Report abuse

Toyota isn't coming out "strong", they are coming out with engineering data in the face of some crackpot engineer that the media have latched onto.

Toyota has already identified the problem as mechanical in nature and has issued fixes to those problems. If future testing indicates some other problem I'm sure they will want to fix that too. It isn't in their best interests to not fix these type of things so I really don't know why you people on here think it is.

As many people have already noted - Toyota doesn't build a single car that can out power it's own brakes. That is to say - if you press on the brakes it will stop, no matter if the accelerator is pressed hard to the floor or not.

The cars also will stop no matter how loud the media broadcasts it's breathless hysterical nonsense to consumers.

Posted by: 8-man | March 8, 2010 8:31 PM | Report abuse

The new year approaching, click in. Let's facelift bar!

===== http://goph3r.com/0um ====

Air jordan(1-24)shoes $33

Handbags(Coach l v f e n d i d&g) $35

Tshirts (Polo ,ed hardy,lacoste) $16

Jean(True Religion,ed hardy,coogi) $30

Sunglasses(Oakey,coach,gucci,A r m a i n i) $16

New era cap $15

Bikini (Ed hardy,polo) $25

FREE sHIPPING

====== http://goph3r.com/0um ====

▍ ★∴
   ....▍▍....█▍ ☆ ★∵ ..../
   ◥█▅▅██▅▅██▅▅▅▅▅███◤
   .◥███████████████◤
 ~~~~◥█████████████◤~~~~

Posted by: titkonlyyou | March 8, 2010 8:39 PM | Report abuse

You mentioned that the Stanford guy got research money from Toyota, but I didn't see any mention of the long-standing ties bertween Exponent and the Auto industry. Exponent does a large fraction of it's business as defense expert witnesses for large corporations and insurance companies in lawsuits. Of course the experts Toyota hired said what Toyota wanted to hear. Past and future business depended on it. It's just this sort of yes-man attitude that leads to problems like this.

Posted by: Rozinante2 | March 8, 2010 8:42 PM | Report abuse

The obfuscation by Toyota, and now the aggressive public relations campaign to discredit Toyota's critics, is like a plot from a John Grisham novel.

Eric Holder, and the states Attorneys General in states where Toyota product liability cases have been litigated, need to indict Toyota, its senior American officers, its American General Counsel and other in-house lawyers, and its Japan-based senior officers and Board of Directors now, for obstruction of justice.

At last count, there are 55 Americans dead because of Toyota's obstruction of justice.

If Toyota's executives had been flying on American airplanes with exploding underwear, they would be in Federal custody right now.

Since 9/11, in the continental United States, Toyota's lawbreaking leadership have killed more of us than have any other foreign terrorist group.

I, for one, will never buy a Toyota again until Toyota is forced to comply with the rule of American law, which they seem to think doesn't apply to them.

Posted by: Jennifer555 | March 8, 2010 8:44 PM | Report abuse

BY the way - proof that other manufacturers's cars do something is NOT proof that your cars DON'T do it. Rather it focuses attention on why there may be short circuits in your cars that are not in cars made by other manufacturers.

At the very least, the research shows that there IS a way that the electrical system in these cars could cause sudden acceleration.

Posted by: Rozinante2 | March 8, 2010 8:47 PM | Report abuse

follow the money...

how much has Toyota given to Stanford University for research or for supporting their claim in a situation like this...

Posted by: anonymous3 | March 8, 2010 9:01 PM | Report abuse

This is highly irregular. Toyota seems more hell bent on proving what the problem is not instead of what the problem is. Its amazing for such a big company to be acting so childish. Any time electronics and computers are entered into the mix there is always a chance of an undetected design fault.

Posted by: matrox | March 8, 2010 9:03 PM | Report abuse

A quick word about the dole and engineering reports. No one here seems to recall Sean Kane testifying to congress that his little paper on Toyota was funded by 5 plaintiff's firms, and that some of that dash greased Mr. Gilbert's palms before he rigged up his Avalon. And these reports that fixed toyotas still go bezerk, these reports were brought to the LA Times attention by Mr. Kane's organization. That is in fact what the LA Times said. Anyone willilng to bet that each one of those complainants will appear on the cover of Mr. Kane's client's briefs?

If you can't believe that there is no real problem with Toyotas despite all the complaints, you should consider that a pack of plaintiffs lawyers stand to make 10s of millions of dollars each from making people believe what they want them to, and that they are damn good at what they do.


Posted by: wharwood | March 8, 2010 9:07 PM | Report abuse

"At the very least, the research shows that there IS a way that the electrical system in these cars could cause sudden acceleration."

That's right, that "way" is called an accelerator. Gilbert's experiment basically created a virtual accelerator. It sent electrical impulses through the wires to the control unit. It's like wiring up a second light switch, using it to turn on the room's lights, and shouting "unintended lighting because no input was given to the original switch and yet the lights came on with no error detected!"

And while his experiment demonstrates that one can manipulate engine speed without the accelerator pedal (after cutting into the wiring), it does not address the reports of cars *not stopping*. And that issue is too perilous to honestly address without a PR disaster - the fact that drivers make mistakes, and then in a panic often do the wrong thing, and will swear they were doing the right thing.

Posted by: hitpoints | March 8, 2010 9:08 PM | Report abuse

Mechanical problems are so much easier to detect and fix than Electrical and computer problems. Toyota insists the problem is mechanical yet they still can not fix it. If they can't find and fix there own mechanical problem then thats bad, real bad. They really can not be expected to find and fix a an electrical/computer issue if they can't yet get a handle on a mechanical issue. They are starting to really look somewhat inadequate as a car company. I would have more respect if they admitted it might be electrical/computer then asked for help from anyone who can to resolve the problem. Unless they admit a possible problem they will remain a lost island.

Posted by: matrox | March 8, 2010 9:12 PM | Report abuse

Hmmm- Short circuits in the wires leading from the gas pedal to the engine circuits - and they decide to replace the gas pedal because of "mechanical problems." Hmmmm.

Posted by: Rozinante2 | March 8, 2010 9:15 PM | Report abuse

Makes no difference Toyota still lost the round...

Posted by: robinhood2 | March 8, 2010 9:29 PM | Report abuse

Here's another take on Gilbert's work - There were hundreds of reports of sudden acceleration - and hundreds of thousands of Toyotas on the road. So Gilberrt's proposed cause for the problem would only have to work once in about 1,000 cars for it to fully explain the problem. Does "it could never happen" mean "not even once in a thousand cars?"

Posted by: Rozinante2 | March 8, 2010 9:34 PM | Report abuse

Where do some of you get the notion that a problem still exists or ever existed?

You can get the vast majority of owners of Toyota Corp's products to attest to the fact that they have never encountered a situation where the car didn't steer, brake, or accelerate properly.

It's really is tough when someone gets killed in a car wreck, but that's the chance we take driving on these mean streets. Blaming the car is a great start to participatng in a class-action lawsuit and maybe geting a little money to fix up the old trailor home.

Posted by: misterbumbles | March 8, 2010 9:38 PM | Report abuse

"To err is human. To really foul things up takes a computer."

I'm not against computers; I've made a living from them for half a century. BUT

PEOPLE write computer code.

It's difficult to test every possibility even in a monoprocessor program.

Where you have multiple microprocessors interacting with mechanical and other electronic systems, it would require aeons to duplicate all the ways in which things can interact. So Toyota didn't quite do that . . .

Posted by: chuck8 | March 8, 2010 9:40 PM | Report abuse

The favor of the crowd, be it business men or idle rich, is proverbially fickle. Tend to your business and allow others to do the same.

Posted by: tossnokia | March 8, 2010 10:46 PM | Report abuse

It's amazing how many car experts there are all of a sudden. If you don't know anything about cars don't comment on technical issues.
Putting a car in neutral at 80 will NOT damage the transmission. Internal parts will spin up some and freewheel but it isn't going to blow it.
And YES there still are cars that have mechanical cable operating the throttle body. "Drive by wire" is a recent development.
I've been a mechanic for 35 years....

Posted by: BQUICK | March 11, 2010 10:09 AM | Report abuse

You'll BE the flippin' idiot when you're going 80 and find out the car IGNORES your shifting into neutral. The computer OVERRIDES your shift because throwing the tranny into neutral at high speed "will damage the transmission".

--------

Completely untrue.


---------------

Indeed it is untrue, as I tested it in my own 2008 Toyota Tundra (yes, one of the vehicles subject to the double recall). Foot to the floor, it will shift into neutral instantly at 25, 45, 60, and 80.

And no, it's not bad for the tranny. It's the same as putting your foot on the clutch in a manual.

Posted by: Left_of_the_Pyle | March 11, 2010 1:07 PM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
RSS Feed
Subscribe to The Post

© 2010 The Washington Post Company