Toyota Finds Inconsistencies in Story of Runaway Prius

Posted: Mar 16, 2010 09:50 a.m.

Yesterday we reported that attempts by the NHTSA and Edmunds to duplicate the unintended acceleration in James Sikes’ runaway Prius failed. Not surprisingly, Toyota recently held a press conference disputing the validity of his claim.

Sikes made headlines last week after he called police to help him stop his 2008 Toyota Prius after its accelerator pedal supposedly stuck, causing him to dangerously accelerate up to 94 mph.

Edmunds reports, “The Japanese automaker, which has been bruised by the fallout from its massive recalls, said its engineers not only put Sikes' 2008 Prius through two days of rigorous testing but also retraced his ‘reported driving route, taking into account driving time and accounts from the 911 recording.’” Their findings revealed inconsistencies with Sikes’ story.

USA Today writes that Toyota found the following:

  • The accelerator pedal is operating  normally.
  • The push button start/stop button shut down the car when it was depressed continuously for three seconds as it was designed to do.
  • The neutral position on the transmission is clearly marked with a big N.
  • There were no trouble codes in the car's computer.
  • The car is designed in a way that the brake pedal and accelerator can't work at the same time.

Toyota, however, did not call Sikes a liar. “Though asked repeatedly if they had concluded that Sykes was lying, representatives for Toyota insisted that was not their judgment to make and they could only say that the investigation's findings were not consistent with the scenario that Sikes describes,” writes Autoblog

It’s not clear what the consequences will be for Sikes if it is deemed that he lied about the ordeal. For Toyota, however, it remains a PR nightmare.

Check out the latest Toyota recall news and information, including how the company's recent troubles affect our rankings. 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.