Toyota Responds to “Grossly Inaccurate” CNN Report
On Thursday, March 1, 2012 CNN ran a report that accused Toyota of covering up a 2006 memo that CNN says reveals that the Japanese Automaker’s engineers knew about the “unintended acceleration” in their vehicles including the Tundra. Toyota responded quickly about these allegations calling the report “Grossly Inaccurate.”
The memo written in Japanese and then translated into English states that the engineers said “The cruise control activates by itself at full throttle when the accelerater pedal position sensor is abnormal.”
The memo went on to state that a “fail-safe overhaul” was needed on one model, the 180L, which was later marketed as the Toyota Tundra.
Toyota shot back saying after the airing “In face of overwhelming scientific evidence to the contrary, CNN has irresponsibly aired a grossly inaccurate segment on Anderson Cooper 360 that attempts to resurrect the discredited, scientifically unproven allegation that there is a hidden defect in Toyota’s electronic throttle control system that can cause unintended acceleration.”
The automaker also said “The translation of ‘勝手に’m which appears in the document, actually translates to ‘by itself’ (as it does in the first translation by CNN) or ‘on its own’… and ‘発進’ correctly translates to ‘starts out’. This phrase ‘starts out on its own’ is used to refer to the fact that the adaptive cruise control (ACC) was preparing to resume its pre-set speed. This is not a reference to sudden unintended acceleration.”
Toyota went on to say that Toyota insisted to CNN it did not share the newly unearthed confidential memo because it “had nothing to do with unintended acceleration, or a defect, or a safety flaw of any kind.”
Also Toyota says that the translator hired by CNN who acknowledges that, “I added these words based on my understanding of the context.”
The scientific studies Toyota refers to are the NASA and National Academy of Sciences that were both commissioned in 2010 by NHTSA. The most recent NAS study largely pointed to driver error, however, some critics say it did leave open a slight possibilty that not all problems were uncovered.
The chance that Toyota was somehow responsible will be crucial to any potential class-action lawsuits.
So far, Toyota has been fined for not disclosing the sticky accelerator issue to NHTSA in a timely manner.
The unintended acceleration issue had been steadily declining with the number of reports falling. The problem lead to millions of recalls in late 2009 and early 2010 related to vehicles unexpectedly racing out of control. It hasn’t gone away completely though, since 331 incidents were reported in 2011.
The report by CNN seems to be trying to drag this old issue back into the limelight. However, according to a recent by the University of Maryland study, the various recalls and reporting has had little effect on consumers with the Toyota brand coming through relatively unscathed.
What do you think about the memo? Do you agree with Toyota’s response?
Filed Under: Tundra Recalls