In a shocking development last month, Toyota Motor Corp. announced a suspension in sales of eight of its models linked to the sudden acceleration problem. The company’s problems began in November 2009, when it recalled more than 4 million vehicles, blaming the problem on defective floor mats. But, subsequent investigations and continued vehicle crashes clearly called that theory into serious question. Then in mid-January, Toyota announced a recall of nearly 3 million additional vehicles, saying there was evidence of problems with the accelerator pedal. The suspension announced on January 26th includes Toyota’s top-seller, the Camry, models since 2007, as well as the 2009-2010 model year RAV4, Corolla and Matrix, the 2008-2010 model year Sequoia, the 2007-2010 model year Tundra, the 2005-2010 model year Avalon and the 2010 model year Highlander.
You will recall that on November 25, 2009, Toyota announced a “solution” for more than 4 million of its recalled cars and trucks that have the potential to accelerate suddenly and unintentionally. The automaker said the accelerator pedal should be shorter and a re-design of the floor mats. Until those safety repairs could be made, Toyota advised owners of the recalled models to remove the floor mats. On the day after Christmas, four people died in Southlake, Texas when the 2008 Toyota they were riding in sped out of control, crashed through a fence, and landed upside down in a pond. Authorities at the scene discovered that the car’s owners had removed the floor mats and stored them in the trunk as they were advised to do in the recall. Investigators ruled out floor mats as the cause of that accident.
We believe that Toyota has known about the sudden acceleration problem for a long time. Toyota has blamed drivers, floor mats, sticking gas pedals, and had basically walked away from the problems until it became apparent it had to take action. You may recall that NHTSA started investigating the sudden acceleration problems in 2004. That involves the 2002 and 2003 Conveys, Solaras, and Lexus ES300s. NHTSA claimed it found no defect and closed the investigation.
Since Toyota announced its sudden acceleration recall, more than 60 new incidents of runaway Toyotas have been reported. When Toyota announced its solution to the problem in November, it said that the gas pedals would be redesigned in all of the recalled vehicles and the mats replaced in some of them. The automaker said in a statement:
In addition, as a separate measure independent of the vehicle-based remedy, Toyota will install a brake override system onto the involved Camry, Avalon, and Lexus ES 350, IS 350 and IS 250 models as an extra measure of confidence. This system cuts engine power in case of simultaneous application of both the accelerator and brake pedals.
Toyota has a major problem and it has pretty much been ignored. We are convinced the real problem is related to electronics. When an automaker quits selling vehicles, you can rest assured they have a major safety problem on their hands. Since things are developing so fast, it’s possible that our readers will have information not contained in this issue. I know our product liability lawyers are being contacted by folks from all over the country on this most serious matter. If you need more information please contact Graham Esdale, Greg Allen or Cole Portis at 800-898-2034 or by email at Graham.Esdale@beasleyallen.com, Greg.Allen@beasleyallen.com, or Cole.Portis@beasleyallen.com.
Sources: ABC News, SouthernInjuryLawyer.com and Reuters
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