US Toyota probe finds no electronic flaws

Electronic flaws were not to blame for unintended acceleration in Toyota vehicles that forced the Japanese automaker to recall eight million cars, a US government probe has found.

"Toyota's problems were mechanical, not electrical," Transport Secretary Ray LaHood said, announcing the results of a 10-month investigation that backed Toyota's claims.

The probe - which called on NASA scientists to examine whether the acceleration was due to faulty electronics - pointed to two previously known mechanical faults as the sole causes.

The accidents, which have been linked to at least 89 deaths, were blamed on a "sticking" accelerator pedal and jammed floor mats, as the automaker had originally found.

Toyota Motor said the investigation "confirms the reliability" of the company's electronic throttle control systems.

"From here on, we intend to listen to our customers even closer and to offer not only safe vehicles but vehicles that provide peace of mind," the automaker said in a statement.

The automaker's shares soared 4.58 percent to 3,650 yen Wednesday in the wake of the results of the US probe and on upbeat earnings.

A lawyer leading a class action suit against Toyota in Santa Ana, California noted after the results were released, however: "I don't think this report ends this matter one bit."

"As far as we could tell there are thousands of complaints out there from very credible people. Some of our plaintiffs in the case are police officers who didn't have a sticky pedal or floor mat problem," said Steven Berman.

"People have had their cars fixed - the pedals and mats - and NHTSA (the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) is still getting complaints," he said.

Amid a rash of injury reports, lawsuits and allegations of a cover-up the Transport Department called in NASA to examine whether there was a broader problem.

The probe analyzed 280,000 lines of computer code used to run Toyota's vehicles for electronics problems and examined whether electromagnetic radiation might have played a role.

NASA investigators said electronic problems could result in throttle openings of around five degrees, but that would hardly be felt if the vehicle was already moving.

LaHood described the probe into Toyota and Lexus vehicles as "one of the most exhaustive, thorough, and intensive research efforts ever taken."

LaHood, previously an Illinois congressman, gave the Japanese carmaker a rare endorsement.

"We feel that Toyota vehicles are safe to drive," he said, adding he had recommended his oldest daughter buy a Toyota Sienna minivan, which she did.

Toyota is struggling to recover from its damaged reputation after a series of mass recalls affecting 10 million vehicles worldwide in late 2009 and early 2010.

Its North America division said it appreciated the "extensive review."

"We believe this rigorous scientific analysis by some of America's foremost engineers should further reinforce confidence in the safety of Toyota and Lexus vehicles," said Steve St. Angelo, North America's chief quality officer, said in a statement.

Toyota will continue "to cooperate fully with (the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) and respected outside experts in order to help ensure that our customers have the utmost confidence in the safety and reliability of our vehicles," he said.

The company has toughened its recall policy to cover around 16 million vehicles between late 2009 and January this year.

Meanwhile the Transportation Department said it would look to impose new regulations requiring brake override systems, standardized keyless ignition systems and event data recorders in all vehicles.

Amid a rapid digitization of vehicles, the department also said it would further research the reliability and security of electronic control systems.

Toyota has paid the US authorities nearly $50 million in penalties related to the recalls.

arb/pmh-jkb-ao/cw

 

PROMOTED VIDEO
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Tradewind Recruitment: KS2 Teacher

    Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: My client is a two form entry primary schoo...

    Tradewind Recruitment: English Teacher

    Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: My client is an excellent, large partially ...

    Tradewind Recruitment: Science Teacher

    £90 - £140 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: I am currently working in partnersh...

    Tradewind Recruitment: Year 3 Primary Teacher

    £100 - £150 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: Year 3 Teacher Birmingham Jan 2015...

    Day In a Page

    Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

    Isis hostage crisis

    The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
    Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

    The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

    Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
    Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

    Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

    Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
    Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

    Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

    This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
    Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

    Cabbage is king again

    Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
    11 best winter skin treats

    Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

    Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
    Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

    Paul Scholes column

    The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
    Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

    Frank Warren's Ringside

    No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
    Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

    Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

    The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
    Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

    Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

    Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
    Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
    Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

    Comedians share stories of depression

    The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
    Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

    Has The Archers lost the plot?

    A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
    English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

    14 office buildings added to protected lists

    Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
    Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

    Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

    Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee