The US Department of Public Transport’s investigation into the unintended acceleration of Toyota Motor Corp vehicles has found that there was no fault with the electronic throttle control systems used in Lexus and Toyota vehicles.
The in-depth 10-month review – ordered by US Congress and carried out by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and NASA – found that the only causes of unintended acceleration in Toyota Motor Corp vehicles were the floor mats and sticking accelerator pedals already addressed in previous recalls.
A statement from US Secretary of Transportation, Ray LaHood, announced the definitive finding overnight.
“There is no electronic-based cause for unintended high-speed acceleration in Toyotas,” Mr LaHood said.
The conclusive announcement followed a six-month update from the government in August last year that no electrical problems had been identified.
Toyota North America chief quality officer, Steve St. Angelo, said Toyota welcomed the findings of the NHTSA and NASA and appreciated the thoroughness of their 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,” Mr St. Angelo said.
“We hope this important study will help put to rest unsupported speculation about Toyota’s ETCS-i (Electronic Throttle Control System with intelligence), which is well-designed and well-tested to ensure that a real world, un-commanded acceleration of the vehicle cannot occur.”
He said Toyota planned to continue to develop and equip its vehicles with safety technology based on its electronics systems.
“We will also continue to cooperate fully with NHTSA and respected outside experts in order to help ensure that our customers have the utmost confidence in the safety and reliability of our vehicles.
“Everyone at Toyota – all 30,000 of our team members in the United States and the many thousands of Americans at our dealers and suppliers across the country – is focused on listening to our customers and constantly improving our products and service,” Mr St. Angelo said.
More than 18 million Toyota Motor Corp vehicles have been recalled around the world since 2009, half of those because of floor mat and accelerator pedal issues.
The US Government fined Toyota $US48.8 million in three separate cases over its handling of the recalls, and the Japanese manufacturer still faces a number of civil lawsuits in the US as a result of the recalls, which could lead to potential liability reaching into the billions of dollars.
Mr LaHood said Toyota’s cooperation throughout the latest 10-month investigation was commendable.
“They’ve understood what we do here is serious business. What we do here is promote safety and we take a back seat to nobody.”
As a result of the investigation, the NHTSA now plans to study the potential for making three systems mandatory for new vehicles: brake override systems, standardised keyless ignition systems and data event recorders.
It will also commence a longer-term investigation into the design and placement of pedals in an attempt to improve safety across the industry.