CNN revealed a confidential memo written in Japanese on the Anderson Cooper 360 show last night that it contends shows Toyota engineers found an electrical problem that caused sudden unintended acceleration in a pre-production test vehicle. The news organization commissioned three separate translations of the documents, though Toyota has objected to the accuracy of each.

Findings from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and National Research Council have both supported Toyota's original explanation of sudden unintended acceleration being caused by either sticky gas pedals, trapped floor mats or human error. Toyota has never admitted that electronic or software issues were to blame for any reported cases of SUA, and every investigation into the matter has failed to identify the automaker as responsible.

Toyota does admit the document in question was not provided to the federal government during their investigations, but explains that "the test and document had nothing to do with unintended acceleration, or a defect, or a safety flaw of any kind." Rather, Toyota insists the document refers to pre-production testing of the company's adaptive cruise control system on a version of the Lexus LS 460 sold in Japan and Europe. A Toyota electrical engineer told CNN that the cruise control system acted exactly as it should when they input an abnormal signal, and that the test resulted in further refinements to the system.

We've embedded the CNN video report after the jump, which also includes anecdotal testimony from one Lexus owner who claims that she has experienced SUA in the period since federal investigators released their findings. Toyota inspected her vehicle and provided data from sensors in her car that showed in her case, acceleration was caused by pedal misapplication. You can also read Toyota's official response just below the video.


Show full PR text
Toyota Responds to CNN Story Tonight

In the 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.

Exhaustive investigations undertaken by some of the most respected engineers and scientific
institutions in America – including NASA, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
(NHTSA) and the National Academy of Sciences – have thoroughly debunked this worn-out
fabrication. Yet a group of trial lawyers suing Toyota for money and their paid advocates are
continuing their efforts to manufacture controversy where none exists and have used CNN to
support their narrow, self-serving agenda.

CNN's story was premised on an egregiously inaccurate translation of a Toyota document
produced in litigation that references a stress test evaluation conducted on a prototype (preproduction) vehicle in development. For example, CNN's mistranslation contains the phrase
"sudden unintended acceleration." These words never appear in the Japanese language
document referenced by CNN. The translation of "•••," which appears in the document,
actually translates to "by itself" (as it does in the first translation by CNN) or "on its own"... and "••" 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. In fact, notes from the translator hired by
CNN explicitly acknowledge that: "I added these words based on my understanding of the
context."

This test, intentionally designed to artificially simulate a failed accelerator pedal sensor,
demonstrated that Toyota's electronics and fail-safes worked exactly designed within
milliseconds to prevent the vehicle from accelerating. Contrary to CNN's allegation, no "sudden
unintended acceleration" occurred nor is it referenced in the Japanese language document. It
was for this very reason that Toyota did not provide this document to the NHTSA in the course
of its exhaustive analysis of Toyota's electronics. There is simply no basis for CNN's assertion
that Toyota withheld this document from the government or that it would have made any
difference in the conclusions of the unprecedented engineering analysis conducted by NASA
and the NHTSA.

Importantly, the Japanese language document describes a condition intentionally induced
during prototype testing of the ACC that has never existed in any vehicle ever produced or sold
by Toyota anywhere in the world.

In its broadcast, CNN also highlights unverified customer complaints to the NHTSA and includes
reference to at least one expert paid for by lawyers suing Toyota. With respect to the complaint
by Tanya Spotts involving a low-speed parking incident, the vehicle's Event Data Recorder
conclusively demonstrates that the driver was on and off of the accelerator pedal in the seconds before impact and did not apply the brake pedal until approximately 0.4 seconds prior to impact, while travelling at 9 MPH. This data is entirely consistent with pedal misapplication.
Complaints like this are not unique to Toyota. In fact, in 2011 alone the NHTSA received
consumer claims of low speed unintended acceleration events while parking for vehicles from
twelve manufacturers other than Toyota.

It is ironic and disheartening that a document that actually reinforces Toyota's robust vehicle
design and pre-production prototype testing to validate the safety of its vehicles in development was the centerpiece of this segment. Notwithstanding CNN's irresponsible, inaccurate broadcast, we are gratified that Toyotas are once again widely recognized by leading
independent evaluators as among the safest and most reliable in the world.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 226 Comments
      Bence
      • 3 Years Ago
      I don't know how this problem can affect American drivers only. Here in Europe the issue is basically unknown.
        carfan
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Bence
        compare the number of toyotas in europe to the one in the US...you'll know right away!!! Only americans are stupid en masse to buy toyotas in such numbers
      keivmx
      • 3 Years Ago
      The throttle position sensor and the throttle butterfly motor are two different things. There is no sensor that opens and closes the throttle. It's an electronic motor that is controlled by the ECU. The TPS is an independent module that measures the angle of the throttle butterfly. Toyota is a victim of their own success. They create cars that never break and need maintenance. It attracts a whole new demographic of people who are clueless about operating machinery into the market. This is why the government mandates more and more fail-proof safety requirements every year. We never needed seatbelts, airbags, ABS, TCS, etc. Yes, they make cars safer. But at the same time, it takes responsibility away from the driver. There are many people who confuse the gas for the brake pedal. My mom had a very similar accident when she backed into a car in a parking lot. At least she admitted it was a simple mistake. There are many other middle aged ladies who have told me the same story. It's anecdotal, but at least I know it's more common than we think.
        CrazySupDawg
        • 3 Years Ago
        @keivmx
        agreed 100%. " We never needed seatbelts, airbags, ABS, TCS, etc. Yes, they make cars safer. But at the same time, it takes responsibility away from the driver. "
      • 3 Years Ago
      [blocked]
      Gregory
      • 3 Years Ago
      Besides the posting date of this 'report', there are no dates associated with this report as to when all this took place, how many vehicles were affected, how many were sold with the alleged problems (if any).... Yes, Toyota is not the perfect auto maker, however which one is?! Quality is directly related to ATTITUDE at the assembly level, parts manufacturing level, suppliers level, management level and corporate head level. If they are not in sync and in the right attitude, then errors will and do happen. Guaranteed! That is why there are warrantees. The hardest, costliest, and most difficult variable in any human endeavor is the "attitude" factor.
      rm
      • 3 Years Ago
      When pulling into a parking space in parking garage, my Lexus lunged forward through the barricade and cable, went airborn and crash landed on the level below on the far side of the garage. Had it landed 12 inches further, it would have gone over the edge--a 6 story drop. I was slowly moving into the parking space, ready to put into park when I was suddenly airborn. The car was going at least 80-100 mph, the brakes did not work. I do not have the floor mats that have been attributed to this acceleration. There is absolutely no way that I could have "slipped" onto the accelerator from a virtually stopped position to cause the rocket like propulsion of the car. I will not drive this car again and even if it is"repaired" cannot in good conscience trade it in so that someone might plunge to their death. 12 more inches would have ended my life.
        jmbwheez
        • 3 Years Ago
        @rm
        I had a problem with Lexus Hybrid as it did lunge forward and hit a utility pole. I can assure everyone both my feet were on the brakes. My car rolled 6-7 times. My feet were stll on the brakes when I stopped. I believe you.
        philc
        • 3 Years Ago
        @rm
        It takes approximately 15 seconds for a Lexus to reach 90MPH in a quarter mile. How big was the parking garage?
      :)
      • 3 Years Ago
      Huge cover up. Such a shame for the families that have lost loved ones. They cannot prove it against such a large company. Toyota sucks!!!!! Anyone who gets in one has no one to blame now... this has been exposed over and over again. Your a fool to get in one. Your a bigger fool to consider buying one. With so many other better cars out there why in the hell would anyone risk it is beyond me.
      Think Free
      • 3 Years Ago
      I believe the Obama administration exaggerated this issue to help GM and hurt the non union Toyota.
        apcc538
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Think Free
        How about think dumb for a comment like that.
        Randy
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Think Free
        I guess it's exaggerated when it's not you or your loved ones crashing into walls! We could also say that George W Bush exaggerated Iraq's weapons of mass destruction which lead to the death of 4804 UN / US troops and thousands of Iraqis! We could also say that George W Bush intentionally left the auto bailout to Obama (as Cheney stated in an interview) which was yet another way in which Bush showed sheer arrogance of authority and allowed hundreds of thousands of extra people to lose their jobs because he didn't act on it. But hey, this is a car blog, not political so we'll leave it at "could say" instead of saying it!
          Frank
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Randy
          You know I heard he's not the president anymore. Just sayin'.
          Think Free
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Randy
          Yes, Bush did exaggerate WMDs. Iraq had WMDs before (Vs Iran) and Toyota had issues (like all car mfgs) Obama and UAW (and all Unions) are inseparable. Have you never heard of a union torching a scab company to send a message? Are you really this naive? Unions are thugs, as is Obama, trust me I am from Chicago.
        petrolsaveslives
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Think Free
        Wait just a second here..... are you insinuating that the very administration is gloating about how they saved the country just to get re-elected would ever have used unconstitutional tactics in order to support special interests towards a socialized agenda? THAT CANT BE SO! it just doesnt seem possible because everything he says he stands for sounded so promising...and he sounds so honest on the youtube!
          Randy
          • 3 Years Ago
          @petrolsaveslives
          I don't think he said that at all! I think he said that at all! I think what he said was that Obama saved GM and jobs but is bitter because Obama isn't of his political party so instead of crediting something to the current administration tried to put a negative undertone on it. From what I recall, the auto bailout was a bipartisan vote and both democrats and republicans (post Bush era) can take credit for it. Bush can't because he left it for Obama to deal with, as Cheney stated in an interview! What a guy! :)
        johnb
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Think Free
        That's the Chicago Way. Works like a charm.
        nsxrules
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Think Free
        Excellent point. And given that Anderson Cooper is an Obama apologist......
        David MacGillis
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Think Free
        So the Obama administration wrote this memo? Okey-dokeee.... How about Toyota is the most arrogant and self-absorbed bunch of goons in the automotive world and they are starting to make the pre 2000 GM look like they "had it going on".
        dknowles60
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Think Free
        hear! hear!
      LifeLongCarGuy
      • 3 Years Ago
      A year after this case was closed, and we are still getting new reports of this issue? Come on. It's not like we are hearing reported cases of "unintended acceleration" on other car brands, only Toyota and Lexus. Coincidence? I think not. How likely is it (for example) for the woman that was interviewed to have never made such a mistake in her driving life to then do it in her brand new Lexus? She's not the common factor. The car is.
        LifeLongCarGuy
        • 3 Years Ago
        @LifeLongCarGuy
        Don't -1 me if you have nothing you want to publicly rebute. That's lame.
      Renaurd
      • 3 Years Ago
      Some of you may want to stick your head in the sand, but Toyota covered this thing up, and our government helped them. The whole NASA thing was a sham, so was the so called investigations of their black boxes, that only Toyota could read, that didn't work most of the time, especially with Toyota didn't want them too. This company lied lied lied, and they are still lying, if the truth ever get to the surface, their goose will be cooked. Their reputation is bought, Con-the-sumer Reports and other media have helped, and are still helping. If someone gave me a piece of their garbage I would sell it immediately. How can the American public be so gullible as to continue to buying their JUNK, and their story.
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Renaurd
        [blocked]
      dinobot666
      • 3 Years Ago
      As usual, AB didn't get half the story here. The memos in question were for pre-production prototypes that weren't even for sale in the US. For an accurate analysis of this, check out what TTAC has to say about it. http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/03/lost-in-translation-toyota-threatens-to-sue-cnn-over-memogate/
        johnb
        • 3 Years Ago
        @dinobot666
        at least read the freaking blog post before typing. sheesh.
        Renaurd
        • 3 Years Ago
        @dinobot666
        Maybe you didn't get the memo, Toyota Lies.
        desinerd1
        • 3 Years Ago
        @dinobot666
        From paragraph 3 of the article: "Rather, Toyota insists the document refers to pre-production testing of the company's adaptive cruise control system on a version of the Lexus LS 460 sold in Japan and Europe." Looks like you are the one who did not read the whole article before making your opinion about AB.
      nsxrules
      • 3 Years Ago
      Autoblog does love to try to make Toyota sound bad, here's the truth on this: http://www.detroitnews.com/article/20120302/AUTO0104/203020386/1148/?source=nletter-auto Toyota Motor Corp. called a CNN reportalleging thatits engineers spottedan electronic defect in a pre-production vehicle that could cause unintended accelerationinaccurate and irresponsible. Toyota, U.S. federal regulators and agencies and independent experts have not found an electronic cause for alleged unintended acceleration that was ultimately attributed to loose floormats, sticking pedals and driver error. Toyota recalled millions of vehicles in 2009 and 2010 to make fixes. And while the controversy ebbed as regulators did not uncover other causes of unintended acceleration,Toyota still faces many lawsuits. "In the 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," Toyota said in a statement Thursday. "Exhaustive investigations undertaken by some of the most respected engineers and scientific institutions in America - including NASA, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the National Academy of Sciences - have thoroughly debunked this worn-out fabrication," the automaker said. It alleged that "a group of trial lawyers suing Toyota for money and their paid advocates are continuing their efforts to manufacture controversy where none exists." It also said CNN's story waspremised on aninaccurate translation of a 2006Toyota document produced in litigation that refers to a stress test evaluation conducted on a vehicle prototype. "CNN's mistranslation contains the phrase 'sudden unintended acceleration.' These words never appear in the Japanese language document referenced by CNN," Toyota said. "There is simply no basis for CNN's assertion that Toyota withheld this document from the government or that it would have made any difference in the conclusions of the unprecedented engineering analysis conducted by NASA and the NHTSA," the company said. CNN said it retained a Tokyo-based translation firm after Toyota complained about inaccuracies in the original translation. It said in an article that Toyota did not provide its own translation of the document.
        Randy
        • 3 Years Ago
        @nsxrules
        The truth is that the memo said what it said and it was interpreted by 3 different firms. Justifications and spins don't elude from the writing on the wall, or the memo! Understand that Toyota knew about it, people got hurt and died! When spins of stories come to a standstill, the facts remain and are clearly visible! Such as the memo!
          nsxrules
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Randy
          I can see from your posts that you are not very bright. Have someone read what I posted and explain it to you. The memo speaks of an issue with a cruise control system that never made it into production. We understand that you feel threatened by Toyota because they nearly drove the Detroit 3 into extinction (with 2 of them having to be bailed out by tax payers) with their vastly superior cars, but that doesn't excuse your ignorance.
        AP1_S2K
        • 3 Years Ago
        @nsxrules
        like most want the truth? They want something to spice up their day between trips to Wal-mart and eating their TV dinners
      WWEVOX
      • 3 Years Ago
      Why would anyone assume that "Toyota lies" when ALL evidence indicates driver error? I am sorry for lost loved ones but to directly attribute that loss to Toyota seems errant. Finally, the commenters here do realize that all auto manufacturers receive claims of SUA. Check NHTSA. And as far as comparing to other brands when you look at accident survival rates Toyota's are quite safe vehicles. Then again... Trolls will he trolls and the ignorant will be such.
        Randy
        • 3 Years Ago
        @WWEVOX
        I guess it's a classic case where after someone is on trial for a crime, they are let go because of lack of evidence. Then when someone goes "Oh here's the smoking gun" they revisit the case and nail them for their wrong doing! Suspicion from reporters that dig for information is what's driving this. Not an agenda! They know something is not right so they keep digging! Apparently it's more than a hunch!
          WWEVOX
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Randy
          Yes I understand the concept but that's not the case in this situation. Do you refute any of what I said? Such as the safety ratings and records of Toyotas or the other manufacturers with similar claims? It seems many are arguing here that Toyota has some defect while all other claims against manufacturers are indeed driver error? Again I get your argument but does the discovery of a knife in suspects possession warrant a reinvestigation of a shooting? This report is related to adaptive cruise control testing and is unrelated to SUA. Even if it was at all incriminating, it would he for a different issue, say... A vehicle that has the system not sold in the US.
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