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Toyota Official: Recalls Will 'Not Totally' Fix Problem

Posted: Feb 24, 2010 09:41 a.m.

A senior Toyota executive told lawmakers yesterday that a recent spate of recalls will “not totally” prevent future incidents of unintended acceleration.

In what Kicking Tires called “a breathtakingly candid moment,” Toyota’s top American sales executive made the comment.   

The Los Angeles Times explains, “Under withering questioning from a congressional committee Tuesday,” Toyota USA Chief Operating Officer Jim Lentz “said that the automaker still hasn't ruled out electronics as a potential cause of sudden acceleration, acknowledging that fixing floor mats and sticking pedals would ‘not totally’ solve the problem.” Instead, Lentz explained, a recent recall due to improperly secured floormats and a second recall due to accelerator pedals that can stick in the down position “solve the problems that we know of."  According to the Times, the company is “awaiting results of two studies of whether electronics in Toyota and Lexus vehicles could cause them to accelerate out of control.”

Edmunds Inside Line notes, “Toyota has repeatedly said that electronic flaws did not cause the rapid, uncontrolled acceleration that some drivers are experiencing.” 

But fears of an electronic cause were discussed throughout the media yesterday, triggered by an ABC News report in which Southern Illinois University professor David Gilbert managed to artificially induce sudden acceleration in a Toyota Avalon by creating an electrical fault that the car’s onboard computer couldn’t detect.

Autoblog, however, cautions readers to take the ABC News story with a grain of salt.  “We…want to avoid the sort of debacle that happened with CBS and the Audi 5000 in the '80s and NBC with the General Motors side-saddle gas tanks in the '90s. In each of those cases, tests were setup to ‘simulate’ the purported problem, but the tests did not exactly simulate real world conditions and showed unrealistic scenarios,” they write.  Gilbert’s demonstration “may be nothing more than proof that Gilbert was able to create a fault condition that could never happen without human intervention.”

Regardless, the issue won’t be going away anytime soon.  Kicking Tires notes, “In the first round of questions before Lentz’s testimony” yesterday, the House Energy and Commerce Committee “established that it would indeed be looking into electronic issues.”

For more information on Toyota's recent problems, including the latest news, please see our Toyota Recall page. If you're in the market for a new car, check out the U.S. News rankings of this year's best cars as well as this month's best car deals