• Mar 12th 2010 at 6:00PM
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Second-gen Toyota Prius – Click above for high-res image gallery

The unintended acceleration case of the second-generation Prius belonging to James Sikes now officially has an interesting backstory. Apparently, according to USAToday, Sikes' "case against Toyota is starting to look shaky." Why? Two reasons. First, and most important, is the technical argument. Toyota is saying that Sikes' Prius has a brake override system that should have slowed the car down in the situation Sikes has described to the media and to investigators. Also, looking at Audi's history with a similar problem back in the 1980s, it's often driver error that led to the acceleration, not a problem with the vehicles themselves.

Second, and only to consider possible motives for pretending something was wrong when there really wasn't, Sikes is apparently deep in debt according to financial records uncovered by Jalopnik. He has said repeatedly that he doesn't plan on suing Toyota, but he has retained a law firm.

As we said yesterday, there is no obvious explanation for why Sikes' Prius (and a similar model in New York a few days later) sped up and there's a case to be made that the hype is getting out of hand. Still, something happened, and the sooner we get the facts here, the better off we'll be. For now, we'll just have to file this under "Ongoing."

[Sources: Jalopnik, USAToday, Autopia]

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 5 Years Ago
      Yeah didnt see that one coming. As soon as I heard the story I cried out Bull. The duration of the supposed out of control acceleration and where it was just didnt feel right at all.
      • 5 Years Ago
      As a former background investigator serious debt is a serious issue to an employer. If one owes a lot of money it could cause them to do things they would normally not do such as sell company/government secrets, or engage in unethical or illegal behavior for their financial gain. Debt is more of an issue when they are making little to no effort to pay it back.
      • 5 Years Ago
      While I think that much of the driving population can do goofy things and many should not even be driving, I seriously doubt the claims of "driver error". Most jerky drivers are willfully negligent. This guy either has a legitimate case, or is scamming. As for driver error, no way.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Toyota Prius Vehicle Throttle and Brake Systems: Myth VS. Fact
      • 5 Years Ago
      This guy didn't have much credibility to begin with as far as I'm concerned. Most of these unintended acceleration reports are b.s. Before I learned about his money problems I figured he was just another attention seeker looking for his time in the spotlight.
      • 5 Years Ago
      When the cop helped him to slow down, the engine still would have been reving out of control, wouldn't it? The officer's word would seem to be good proof that something was wrong. Or did the acceleration just stop magically on it's own so the car appeared normal when they got him pulled over.
      • 5 Years Ago

      Ha... 67 YEAR OLD WOMAN.. driving Lexus with all the fix... hmmm. It just fits the exact profile Mr. McElory was citing... Hmmm...
        • 5 Years Ago
        Interesting to see the comments of the witnesses.

        "He rushed to the hospital in his Honda, where his relief over Myrna's relatively minor injuries was tempered by concern that the Lexus dealership's mechanical “fixes” apparently failed."

        Gee, Hondas must be great cars then, huh? :p
      • 5 Years Ago
      I think that most of the evidence is pointing to this being fraud. Still, the Prius in question still needs to be tested to see if it indeed is possible to accelerate it to 90MPH with the brake depressed enough to make them smoke without activating the throttle override, which is apparently there due to the car's braking system, not for safety.

      I applaud Auto Blog for reporting the facts, but reserving judgment until they're all in.
        • 5 Years Ago
        I think my comment makes it pretty clear I'm aware of the override. The reports on the brakes are from the trooper who responded to the call. He said they were burned and there were pieces of lining on the wheels. Are you accusing the CHiP officer of duplicity or abject stupidity? And on the basis of what facts?
      • 5 Years Ago
      You are reading WAY too much into it.

      What they're saying is in THIS SPECIFIC SITUATION, his credibility is decreased because of his large amount of debt and the retaining of legal counsel. And only because this type of situation has some potential (by media, lawsuit, or whatever) to be financially beneficial.

      If you want to read it like you have, fine. I think it makes you look dumb though. But whatever...
      • 5 Years Ago
      If Sikes is shown to be a fraud, it would not constitute a "win" for Toyota, but it would harm legitimate victims and their families seeking justice.
      • 5 Years Ago
      LMFAO!!! Way to spin a total fraud!!! A "twist" of debt & technology? Seriously? There hasn't been a better example of utter journalistic irresponsiblity and panic-inducing incompetence since 10k people were reported dead in New Orleans.

      Autoblog- you have been GIDDY in your bashings regarding Toyota- a fact not lost on them at all- and now- yet another major chunk in your credibilty has been blown away.

      Ultimately your credibility determines your existence.

      You could at least put as much effort into reporting the initial story as you did trying to come up with a way to back out of it. The drive by media is the one with real accelerator problems. Traveling down the highway at full throttle- into oblivion. Guess you joined em?
      • 5 Years Ago
      It's always a bit sketch when a bunch of random cases start appearing ONCE a problem has been discovered. If all this had happened before the recall, I wouldn't have batted an eye at it, but anyone that causes a big fuss about it post-recall is probably trying to get something out of the whole deal.
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