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During the first round of Congressional hearings last month, Toyota was blindsided by one Professor David Gilbert who was added to the witness list at the last minute to talk about an experiment in which he induced sudden unintended acceleration (SUA) in a late model Toyota Avalon. His test was reproduced in a shoddy ABC News report with Brian Ross behind the wheel and referenced often in the Congressional hearings by politicians trying to understand the complicated method by which Gilbert got the Avalon to take off running.

Well, Toyota and its independent consulting firm Exponent (they're funded by Toyota but produce results reportedly not influenced by their client) have studied Gilbert's experiment and been able to reproduce the results themselves. In Toyota's words:
The analysis of Professor's Gilbert's demonstration establishes that he has reengineered and rewired the signals from the accelerator pedal. This rewired circuit is highly unlikely to occur naturally and can only be contrived in a laboratory. There is no evidence to suggest that this highly unlikely scenario has ever occurred in the real world. As shown in the Exponent and Toyota evaluations, with such artificial modifications, similar results can be obtained in other vehicles.
Likewise, a small portion of owners with vehicles that have already received the fix for Toyota's sticky pedal recall have complained to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration that the fix didn't work. These owners have reportedly experienced SUA after having their vehicles fixed. Toyota has moved quickly to evaluate these complaints and submit its results to NHTSA. Again, Toyota in its own words:
The evaluations have found no evidence of a failure of the vehicle electronic throttle control system, the recent recall remedies or the brake override system.
What these two moves by Toyota tell us is that the embattled Japanese automaker is finally sticking up for itself in the face of media pundits and politicians who have used this unfortunate situation to score points with their audiences and constituents.

[Source: Toyota]
Show full PR text
Toyota Statement on Rebuttal of Professor Gilbert's 'Unintended Acceleration' Demonstration

Toyota and Exponent have provided Professor David Gilbert of Southern Illinois University with the results of their thorough evaluations of his demonstration of apparent "unintended acceleration" in Toyota and Lexus vehicles as described in his Preliminary Report and in his testimony at recent Congressional hearings. In evaluating Professor Gilbert's claims, Exponent also analyzed the footage of Professor Gilbert's appearance on ABC News on February 22, 2010.

Toyota has also supplied the results of these evaluations to the appropriate Congressional Committees. The analysis of Professor's Gilbert's demonstration establishes that he has reengineered and rewired the signals from the accelerator pedal. This rewired circuit is highly unlikely to occur naturally and can only be contrived in a laboratory. There is no evidence to suggest that this highly unlikely scenario has ever occurred in the real world. As shown in the Exponent and Toyota evaluations, with such artificial modifications, similar results can be obtained in other vehicles.


Toyota Evaluates Unintended Acceleration Complaints in Remedied Vehicles
Brake Override System Operation Explained


TORRANCE, Calif., March 4, 2010 – Toyota Motor Sales (TMS), U.S.A., Inc., has received verifiable information from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) about some vehicles whose owners have reported unintended acceleration after receiving the accelerator pedal recall remedies. As soon as Toyota received the vehicle owner information from NHTSA, it moved quickly to evaluate the vehicles and interview the owners.

Although most of these reports have yet to be verified, Toyota has been and remains committed to investigating all reported incidents of sudden acceleration in its vehicles quickly. Toyota wants to hear directly from its customers about any problems they are experiencing with their vehicles.

The results of the evaluations have been submitted to NHTSA for review. Though these reports involve a tiny fraction of the more than one million vehicles dealers have repaired to date, Toyota takes them extremely seriously.

As NHTSA is now reviewing the results of our evaluations, it is inappropriate for Toyota to provide specific information about the company's conclusions. However, the evaluations have found no evidence of a failure of the vehicle electronic throttle control system, the recent recall remedies or the brake override system.

It is important to note that many complaints submitted to NHTSA either are unverifiable or lack the vehicle owner information required to facilitate follow-up. Nonetheless, Toyota is quickly investigating verifiable complaints of unintended acceleration and doing everything it can to ensure that our customers are confident in their vehicles and the remedies.

About the Brake Override System
The brake override system is designed to stop the vehicle when the brake pedal is firmly pressed in cases in which acceleration is caused by mechanical interference with the accelerator pedal.

However, if the brake pedal is released, while there is still mechanical interference with the pedal, the vehicle may again accelerate. Therefore, once the vehicle brought to a safe stop, the transmission gear selector should be put into neutral or park position before turning off the engine. In this case, drivers are asked to contact their nearest Toyota dealer.

For practical reasons, the brake override system does not engage if the brake pedal is pressed before the accelerator pedal. For example, this allows for vehicles starting on a steep hill to safely accelerate without rolling backwards. Also, while the brake override system is engaged, if the brake pedal is released or if the accelerator pedal moves more than a certain amount, the brake override system will disengage in order to give precedence to the driver intention.

The brake override system does not engage when the vehicle moves at speeds less than approximately five miles per hour, at which point the vehicle can be stopped safely.


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  • 64 Comments
      • 5 Years Ago
      I bought my wife ES350 a year ago, and since this news has been brought, I have been testing my ES350 extensively, for some 500 miles driving on highway. If anything, I am just more inclined to believe this vehicle is very well made, responsive to accel and brake, on my reckless driving. I don't know what else to test other than driving over and over again, but so far, I have experienced no issue. But I am not very comfortable with all the news, I wish there is some discovery of an error, errors.
        • 5 Years Ago
        seunghan,

        there is no recall for Lexus, so you shouldn't worry.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Toyota is getting quite desperate to regain its image among potential buyers. At the Dallas Auto Show today they had by far the largest area, replete with a STOMP-like performance group, and a "Customer Service Center" instead of a booth. I was so embarrassed for them as a Corolla owner that I found a Yaris with manual locks and crank windows to hide in until the drumming was over.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Are they all 6 cyl, or are some 4cyls involved? If they are 6cyls, are the ybuilt in the uS?
      How come no lexus 6cyl mocels are involved. Isn't the 6cy the same 268 hp engine used in both ES 350, Is350, Rx350 vehicles?
      Have they ruled out sabotage on the line?
      Why no Lex vehicles?
      • 5 Years Ago
      Grow up and quit being such a crybaby.
      • 5 Years Ago
      This is frustrating.
      Basically ABC's test tested the computer to see if it would automatically shut down, and it didn't. Nothing to disprove. It's not like the guy at ABC brilliantly reverse-engineered the ECU.

      Toyota needs to stop shooting themselves in the foot with one hand & digging their grave with the other. With their chinsy fix not working, continuing to lie about the problem, and owners complaining about new pedal issues ( oversensitivity is what i hear ), they're just making things worse.

      Has the ECU fix even been deployed?

      They would be way better off if they got honest and did an honest fix.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Tell me, what evidence is there that there's an electronic problem. The NHTSA couldn't find an electronic problem, an outside consulting firm couldn't find an electronic problem, and even Popular Mechanics wrote a piece on how it couldn't be an electronic problem. Still, you get all these armchair experts on the internet spreading FUD and claiming it's electronic. Toyota INVITED this man to show them what they did and told them to bring along the ABC News crew to film it. This happened a few weeks ago. So far, I haven't heard anything about him accepting the challenge. Why? Because he knows he'll be embarrassed by the Stanford professor who Toyota has on board to take apart his argument. Only congress and ABC News viewers would accept his BS, considering he didn't even provide any technical details. Not to mention that Jalopnik, which is even more Anti-Toyota than Autoblog, has called out ABC News for faking some of the footage.
        • 5 Years Ago
        @zamafir - really? It's insane of them not to, if so. An electronic pedal will degrade over time. Maybe they'll see a class action lawsuit in 5-10 years if the pedals fail the wrong way.

        Yes, preventing this would have been a simple programming task. Literally 10 lines of code or less. I am a programmer and know that even writing a routine in assembly code would be simple.

        Ditto, i hope this is a wakeup call. But their actions seem to indicate that they're still snoozin'. That's really dissapointing.
        • 5 Years Ago
        You forgot something:

        Jalopnik: "But the "fixed" video still doesn't use footage of the tachometer taken while Ross was driving the car as seen in the report" "What we're saying is that Ross' report doesn't show what it claims to show. In fact, it is a deliberately arranged collection of footage that is designed to make you think you are being shown something that either doesn't exist or is being deliberately withheld by ABC News—footage of the tachometer that Ross was driving in the report—and is therefore staged. And fake."

        The question was why couldn't they use the actual footage? That alone severely drags down their credibility... well not like Brian Ross had much to begin with. After they were called out by Jalopnik, they used another set of faked footage. Why can't they use the real one? Hmmmm. I wonder what you would say if Toyota was shown to do the same thing while trying to prove that they are innocent.

        "Toyota *paid someone* to do a test for them, how credible is that, especially considering they've been lying to us the entire way through this recall, from floor mat to pedal?"

        Um, businesses do this all the time. Retailers hire outside QA consulting firms to make sure their products are safe. Consultants need to make sure they provide honest, quality results to keep their reputation. If Exponent was caught faking results, they would lose all their credibility and along with that, their business. I suggest you google Exponent to see who they are. Anyway, what WOULD be acceptable for you? As I mentioned, multiple expert sources (even ones not paid by Toyota) have said there is no electronic problem. The one expert who claims to have hard evidence of an electronic problem hasn't risen to Toyota's public challenge because he's probably scared of the Stanford professor debunking his whole test.

        So I ask again, where is your evidence of an electronic problem?
        • 5 Years Ago
        "The ECU should not acknowledge 100% throttle while brakes are slammed. I can't think of another car manufacturer that doesn't have a throttle override. Sudden acceleration is basically the pedal being at the 100% position, so how is that NOT part of the problem?"

        Again, it doesn't prove at all that electronics CAUSED unintended acceleration.

        "I will admit the ABC news report looks funky. Sudden acceleration It is notoriously difficult to replicate though. A lot of people report that it will happen once a month or so. If you search the net, you'll find people who've had the fix that still have the issue."

        But he says that he can reproduce it easily by fiddling around with the electronics, so why doesn't he get on with it and accept the challenge already? Yes, it's "notoriously" rare, which is why I'm highly skeptical those people keep experiencing the problem right after the fix. I'm aware a dozen or so people have -claimed- to still experience the problem. That doesn't mean I believe them one bit considering the stories I've read of people explaining their issue (the Canadian woman and the Congress testimony) have been 100% tripe.

        "How is the Stanford study more credible than ABC's report? Both are scant on real details, but the difference is that Stanford got payola from Toyota and ABC did not."

        There was no Stanford study. That was Exponent's study.

        First of all, I trust a well-respected independent consulting firm, whose job it is to investigate these issues, more than some random professor who won't even accept Toyota's public challenge. Exponent actually did release a report for congress and the NHTSA to analyze. Independent expert scrutiny makes it more reliable.

        Second, ABC faked the footage and lied about it to Jalopnik. ABC hired the professor to show them the problem, so there is financial incentive for him to twist the truth. ABC themselves have financial incentive because they have always pulled this kind of BS to get viewers, as the Gawker article details. Exponent is hired by a lot of companies to do engineering work for them, so lying about it and submitting their evidence to congress would get them in deep trouble.

        Last, regarding Stanford University, I was referring to how the director of Stanford's auto research center, Chris Gerdes, has pledged to show that Gilbert's test was unrealistic bunk and that it could be done in other vehicles easily. This is supposed to happen tomorrow. Mr. Gilbert and ABC News was invited to this event as well, but I haven't heard anything of them showing up. If they do decide to show up, then I'll admit that I was wrong and that they do have a shred of credibility. The Stanford auto research center is funded PARTLY by Toyota, but it's also funded by many other automakers including other Toyota competitors, so there should be no incentive for him to lie. We'll see what happens tomorrow, won't we?

        • 5 Years Ago
        The ECU should not acknowledge 100% throttle while brakes are slammed. I can't think of another car manufacturer that doesn't have a throttle override. Sudden acceleration is basically the pedal being at the 100% position, so how is that NOT part of the problem?

        I will admit the ABC news report looks funky. Sudden acceleration It is notoriously difficult to replicate though. A lot of people report that it will happen once a month or so. If you search the net, you'll find people who've had the fix that still have the issue.

        How is the Stanford study more credible than ABC's report? Both are scant on real details, but the difference is that Stanford got payola from Toyota and ABC did not.

        It all comes down to who's kool-aid you drink. I see no reason to suddenly trust Toyota considering their past attitude towards consumers and their recent history of safety coverups.
        • 5 Years Ago
        "By the way: We're not saying that the test itself was faked. You can actually see from the new video that the speedometer goes up from 10 mph to roughly 30 mph very quickly when the uncommanded acceleration happens. " - Jalopnik

        That's just news footage editing. Things get chopped up and out of sequence, and shots are deliberately staged for better quality. Filming the car redlining but not moving makes sense. Have you ever seen youtube videos of people filming their tachometers for 0-60 runs?

        Toyota *paid someone* to do a test for them, how credible is that, especially considering they've been lying to us the entire way through this recall, from floor mat to pedal?
        • 5 Years Ago
        "Again, it doesn't prove at all that electronics CAUSED unintended acceleration."

        The ECU is not electronic?

        I guess i cannot refute your other points, you are good at this whole arguing on the internet thing :P

        I guess it is a matter of who's paid researchers do you trust the most - the ones with interest of making news, or the ones defending a multibillion dollar corporation who has a recent history of lying to the public until they are exposed?

        After all, they could have ran tests that wouldn't have caused the problem.
        We're talking about a company that thinks putting a metal rectangle in the pedal instead of replacing the pedal is the fix.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Wasn't the whole point of the shoddy ABC test to show that the problem was a lack of safety nets to prevent sudden acceleration? Sorry but toyota are the ones who reek of BS seen like true spin doctors, they found some idiots who will try to derail the topic for them by changing it.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Haha, the end of Toyota is near. Typical Japanese attitude about being perfect is going to end up costing them. All of you Toyota nutswingers on here should just get over it, and realize that they brought this on themselves.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I hope this mess gets sorted out soon. But knowing the media and politicians I guess this circus will drag on for a few more months at least.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I believe the whole point of Gilbert's tests are to show that Toyota ECUs don't catch error conditions. Case in point, my Sienna. It will intermittently miss fire on cold start (less than 20F) causing the check engine light to flash and the vehicle will run in limp-along-mode until restarted. No trouble codes are ever caught by the ECU and a permanent code entered by a technician a week earlier was magically erased.

      Will Toyota ever recover from the bad press? Yes
      Will Toyota correct their quality issues? Yes
      Will I ever buy another Toyota? No
      • 5 Years Ago
      There will always be people who will "jump on the bandwagon" for their own ends. However, ....there HAS TO BE a bandwagon to jump on too. AAAhhhaaa yes....there is the CRUX of the problem! I stand by my statements in past blogs----This problem will not be solved by floormats of pedal shims. There is more to this, and it IS KILLING PEOPLE.
      • 5 Years Ago
      all i know is that hyundai will eventually become the biggest asian automaker. toyota will continue to slide and hyundai will catch toyota probably by 2020.

      • 5 Years Ago
      three things: 1. how are they sticking up for themselves? Do you actually think they're going to admit that something is wrong?

      2. I love the use of the words "highly unlikely"...that's not really denying anything is wrong.

      And 3. Maybe the professor rewired the car, but how is Toyota proving that it is NOT the cause? This guy went on national TV and demonstrated it. Where's Toyota's demonstration proving him wrong? They just spit out words.
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