Memo reveals Toyota blamed unintended acceleration on electronics in 2002

posted on:
March 24, 2010

author:
Staff

Memo reveals Toyota blamed unintended acceleration on electronics in 2002

New evidence has emerged revealing that both Toyota and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration knew that reported sudden acceleration incidents were linked to a glitch in the vehicles’ electronic system.

In August 2002, Toyota Motor Corp. issued a Technical Service Bulletin warning every dealership in the country that Camrys were reportedly surging out of control and that recommended adjustments to the electronic controls could fix the problem. Toyota also sent the bulletin to NHTSA, which issued an internal memo acknowledging Toyota unintended acceleration (UA) in 2002 and 2003 Camrys. The document was never made public until a group of attorneys submitted a copy of it to CNN. The memo states, “The percentage of incidents that resulted in a crash is high.”

When CNN obtained to the document, it turned to the nonprofit Center for Auto Safety (CAS) for an assessment. According to Clarence Ditlow, the Executive Director of CAS, the document does not address any mechanical defects that could cause the problem.

“If you look at this document it says electronics. It says the fix is reprogramming the computer,” Ditlow told CNN.

“It doesn’t say anything about floor mats,” he added.

The electronic defect at the center of the memo never led to a recall of Camrys or other Toyota models.

Instead, according to Ditlow, apparently Toyota and NHTSA conspired to keep the document hidden from the public’s attention.

“The government is really hiding this information from the consumer,” Ditlow told CNN. “They’re in a conspiracy with the auto industry to keep these out of the public’s sight.”

But if Toyota knew what was causing its cars to accelerate suddenly and unintentionally, why didn’t it issue a recall, especially if the solution was a simple fix? Because the repair, though easy to make, would have cost about $500 per vehicle. Applied to millions of cars nationwide, that translates to somewhere between $4 billion and $5 billion dollars.

Toyota issued a strong statement in response to the allegations in the CNN report, denying that Toyota hid the memo to protect its profits.

More information
2002 Toyota Technical Service Bulletin
2003 NHTSA Memo on Toyota’s Unintended Accelerations

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