CNN reveals Toyota memo that purports to show sudden acceleration caused by electronics

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.

The video meant to be presented here is no longer available. Sorry for the inconvenience.

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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

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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