• Mar 15, 2010
A joint investigation by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and Toyota into the highly publicized incident last week of a runaway 2008 Toyota Prius near San Diego, CA may begin to answer questions raised after the owner's credibility was challenged. In particular, the brakes reportedly exhibit a pattern of wear that's inconsistent with the story told by the vehicle's owner, James Sikes. According to a draft memo written for the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, the condition of the brakes suggests that they "weren't applied at full force over a sustained period at high speeds" reports the Wall Street Journal, but rather "the driver may have intermittently applied moderate pressure on the brakes."

Representatives from NHTSA and Toyota also couldn't duplicate the sudden unintended acceleration in testing that was allegedly experienced in the same car last week, though Sikes' lawyer claims these findings are not surprising: "I don't think that is surprising insofar as NHTSA has never been able to recreate these events and Toyota has denied that they even occur."

Finally, Sikes said after the incident that his accelerator pedal was stuck to the floor and he was braking hard at the same time. His particular Prius, however, is fitted with a brake override system that cuts engine power if the accelerator pedal and brake are applied at the same time. Investigators from both NHTSA and Toyota reportedly tried to recreate the same scenario with the vehicle in question and failed due to the brake override system performing as it was intended.

Toyota has announced a press conference for later today to share more of the investigation's results, which will likely further erode confidence in Sikes and his story. Some experts have questioned why Sikes didn't follow the advice of a 911 operator and shift his Prius into Neutral, as well as his explanation later of being afraid that the car would flip if he took it out of Drive. Also, Jalopnik.com reported last week that Sikes is some $700,000 in debt as well as behind on lease payments for the Prius in question. Puzzling behavior and circumstantial evidence aside, this investigation appears to offer the first hard evidence that what happened on Interstate 8 last week may not have been Toyota's fault.

[Source: Wall Street Journal, CNN, Jalopnik | Image: Toyota]]


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  • 50 Comments
      • 4 Years Ago
      Did you guys see this? Why isnt autoblog posting it? lol

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lZ4PtafRB9c
        • 4 Years Ago
        Yes, the guy definitely breaks the myth about the prius drivers, he just posted a second video… http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gqcCGv0aolM

        No vulgar language in the second one :)
        • 4 Years Ago
        • 4 Years Ago
        i feel like i would be friends with this guy. i have anger management problems too.
        • 4 Years Ago
        I'm crying in laughter. Oh man, that guy's awesome.
        • 4 Years Ago
        LOL. Would be awesome but language usage would be NSFW. Besides the F-bombs It's spectacular! Hahaha
        • 4 Years Ago
        Not the kind of guy I'd expect to be driving a Prius. He actually seems to have a working brain! ;)
      • 4 Years Ago
      -the condition of the brakes suggests that they "weren't applied at full force over a sustained period at high speeds"
      -why Sikes didn't follow the advice of a 911 operator and shift his Prius into Neutral, as well as his explanation later of being afraid that the car would flip if he took it out of Drive.
      -Jalopnik.com reported last week that Sikes is some $700,000 in debt as well as behind on lease payments for the Prius in question.

      I don't think Toyota is entirely honest about SUI, but this story is complete BS.
      • 4 Years Ago
      this whole toyota thing is bull to me. i dont believe in any of these stories of self acceleration.
      • 4 Years Ago
      So many scammers these days.
      • 4 Years Ago
      to be even more cynical, what if Toyota paid this guy to do this because 700k is nothing to Toyota, but this guy gets his bills paid and perceived as an a-hole and leaves El Cajon. not a bad way to go
      • 4 Years Ago
      Anything is possible. Proving the improbable is what is difficult.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Toyota sales are up huge this month. Anyone with a brain knew this guy was full of crap.
      • 4 Years Ago
      I thought Sikes was bad. His lawyer sounds even worse.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Balloon Boy 2.0

      You'd think that people would learn from the mistakes of others.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Not like I care one way or the other about Toyota, but they will never be able to get back the bad PR that this story caused. Even if ever news station reports that it was a fraud, people will only remember that runaway Prius.

      Impossible to quantify, but how many lost sales did this guy cause Toyota in March?

        • 4 Years Ago
        Except there's no way to conclusively rule out the electronics. Even though there's no evidence pointing to them, there's no way to rule them out either.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Toyota will bounce back as long as the electronics are conclusively ruled out as the source of this problem.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Sikes is getting owned.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Wow, imagine that. Someone is trying to take advantage of a bad situation to pay for their ineptitude.
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