Toyota's throttle 'not to blame' for faulty speeding, says US report

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The Independent Online

An official investigation is believed to have found there were no problems with the electronic-throttle system in Toyota's cars, despite thousands of complaints claiming its cars had accelerated outside of drivers' control.

News emerged yesterday of preliminary results from the US government investigation that analysed sudden acceleration in Toyotas and Lexuses following almost 2,200 incidents.

It is understood that the Department of Transportation has not found a link to the electronic throttles, and even said some of the cases could have been caused by drivers pushing the wrong pedal. The report, seen by The Wall Street Journal, said: "The early results suggest that some drivers who said their Toyotas and Lexuses surged out of control were mistakenly flooring the accelerator when they intended to jam on the brakes."

A spokesman for the Japanese car giant declined to comment on the report. He said the investigation was ongoing and the company did not want to prejudge its findings before its publication.

Toyota has assisted the authorities with the investigation, providing data recorders and the findings from the inspections of the 2,000 sites.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which is carrying out the investigation, has called in space-agency experts and independent scientists to study the throttles.

The report said clearing the electronic throttle did not exonerate the group's cars, which still suffered from the issue of "sticky" accelerator pedals and complaints that its floormats jammed the pedal to the floor.

Toyota has recalled more than 10 million vehicles since last September, and earlier this month it was forced to recall 270,000 Lexus vehicles because of engine faults, although no accidents had been reported.

Akio Toyoda, the president of Toyota, apologised following a disastrous year at the group's annual meeting in June, and has also apologised to the US Congress.

In April, the group agreed to pay a record $16.4m (£10.7m) fine in the US. The group admitted it had failed to publicise the problems with its accelerator pedals in some models sufficiently promptly.

It also faces a string of class-action lawsuits and individual claims over the uncontrolled acceleration.