Toyota Circles the Wagons to Defend its Brand

If you don't know what the third pedal is for, perhaps you're looking at the <a href="/2300-10863_7-10001167.html">wrong car</a>.

Toyota continues its campaign to get out of the automaker penalty box and to defend the quality of its electronic systems. According to the Wall Street Journal, Toyota will address the media on March 8 and its suppliers on March 9. Toyota President Akio Toyoda will try to reassure the world that Toyota's products are safe and the company is doing all in its power to resolve the safety problems that involve more than 8 million vehicles.

It's an uphill battle for Toyota, with Congressional committees probing the company, lawmakers accusing the company of deceptive practices and a growing number of lawsuits.

Toyota is facing at least 70 lawsuits, which could become a class-action, claiming injury from the alleged unintended acceleration. More than 60 Toyota customers who had their recalled cars fixed have reported that the vehicles still exhibit the unintended acceleration. Toyota says that it is investigating the reported incidents, and is submitting its evaluations to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), but maintains that most of the reports are unverified.

The NHTSA has linked consumer complaints to 43 crashes that caused 52 deaths and 38 injuries.

In addition, Toyota claims that the study and testimony in a Congressional hearing by Professor David Gilbert of Southern Illinois University that found apparent unintended acceleration in Toyota and Lexus vehicles is flawed: 

In evaluating Professor Gilbert's claims, Exponent [a testing firm employed by Toyota] 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. 

In addition, a review by the Associated Press found that Toyota has been inconsistent and sometimes contradictory regarding its black box, which records data, such as whether brake or accelerator pedals were depressed when a crash occurred.

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