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BUSINESS
March 12, 2010 | By Jim Puzzanghera
Rebuffing criticism of slow action and underfunded efforts, the head of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said his agency acted properly in investigating complaints about sudden-acceleration problems in Toyota vehicles and has enough money and staff to oversee the auto industry. At a House subcommittee hearing Thursday, NHTSA Administrator David Strickland also denied that agency employees were beholden to the automakers they regulate. "This agency opened eight separate investigations over the time period when there were complaints about sudden acceleration.
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BUSINESS
February 14, 2010 | By Ken Bensinger and Ralph Vartabedian
In the nearly five months since it launched a string of recalls to stop its cars from accelerating out of control, Toyota Motor Corp. has been adamant about one thing: It's not the electronics. Company officials first put the blame on floor mats that could entrap the accelerator, later amending that to include gas pedals themselves that could stick. But they have vigorously asserted that there is no evidence of a glitch in the electronics or software that could cause cars to malfunction, a "ghost in the machine."
BUSINESS
January 22, 2010 | By Ken Bensinger
Toyota Motor Corp. launched a major new recall Thursday, saying a mechanical problem could cause the gas pedals to stick and cause unwanted acceleration in 2.3 million of its vehicles, including recent models of its popular Camry and Corolla sedans. Most of the vehicles targeted by the new recall were also included in a separate recall of 4.3 million vehicles late last year involving floor mats that could jam the accelerator pedal open. In issuing its latest recall, Toyota has for the first time acknowledged that a mechanical problem could cause its vehicles to accelerate out of control.
BUSINESS
February 3, 2010 | By Jim Puzzanghera and Jerry Hirsch
U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said Wednesday that the government now is looking into complaints about problems with brakes on Toyota's popular Prius hybrid sedan, after reports that Japan's government has asked the company to investigate the issue. LaHood also advised drivers of Toyota vehicles recalled because of sudden acceleration problems to get their vehicles fixed quickly, which will be a major task for the automaker given the number of vehicles involved. Toyota Motor Corp.
BUSINESS
February 7, 2010 | By Ralph Vartabedian and Ken Bensinger
Congressional investigators opening hearings this week on Toyota's sudden-acceleration troubles say they will focus on discrepancies in the automaker's explanation of the problem, the role of regulators who oversee the industry -- and ultimately whether federal safety standards are grossly outdated, given the advanced electronics technology at the heart of modern car-making. Two House committee hearings, on Wednesday and on Feb. 25, will take place amid the high political pressures that shape Washington investigations.
BUSINESS
March 8, 2010 | By Ken Bensinger and Ralph Vartabedian
Months into its recall crisis, Toyota Motor Corp. launched a counterattack Monday, bringing out a panel of experts to debunk the claims of an academic who says he has found an electronic defect in its vehicles related to sudden acceleration. In a presentation at the company's Torrance operations center, five engineers disputed the findings of Southern Illinois University Carbondale professor David Gilbert, who claims he can produce an electrical fault in Toyota vehicles without its being detected by the vehicles' diagnostic system.
BUSINESS
May 23, 2010
Toyota documents compiled in connection with a court case show the automaker's travails with the 2002-2006 model years of the Lexus ES 300, 330 and 350 sedans. Oct. 1999: Four engineers identify "shift shock" and "weak feeling" in the transmission of the early prototype. Aug. 2000: Eight engineers rate the ES prototype unacceptable in 20 of 41 performance categories. Feb. 2001: A driveability test notes that "some customers may equate delayed [gear] engagement with engine acceleration hesitation."
BUSINESS
June 18, 2010 | By Stuart Pfeifer, Los Angeles Times
In a legal career spanning nearly four decades, attorney Mark P. Robinson Jr. has won multimillion-dollar verdicts against carmakers Ford, General Motors, Nissan and Hyundai. Now, the Newport Beach lawyer has been tapped to play a big role in the massive legal battle involving Toyota Motor Corp., which faces potentially billions of dollars of liability from lawsuits involving the alleged sudden unintended acceleration of its vehicles. Robinson, co-lead plaintiffs' attorney in the wrongful death and personal injury cases pending against Toyota in federal court, is known for going to unusual lengths to build evidence that can swing a case.
BUSINESS
November 5, 2009 | Ken Bensinger and Ralph Vartabedian
Federal safety regulators have sharply rebuked Toyota Motor Corp. for issuing "inaccurate and misleading" statements asserting that no defect exists in the 3.8 million vehicles it recalled after a Lexus sedan accelerated out of control in San Diego County, killing four people. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration issued a statement Wednesday that the recalled Toyota and Lexus vehicles do have an "underlying defect" that involves the design of the accelerator pedal and the driver's foot well.
BUSINESS
October 28, 2009 | Ralph Vartabedian and Ken Bensinger
Federal safety regulators have closed an inquiry into sudden-acceleration incidents involving certain Lexus ES models after concluding that a vehicle defect was unlikely. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's inquiry into the 2007 Lexus ES 350 and the 2002-03 Lexus ES 300 was triggered by a petition from Jeffrey A. Pepski of Plymouth, Minn. Pepski said his 2007 Lexus ES 350 suddenly accelerated from 60 to 80 mph while he was driving home from work Feb. 3. Pepski said his accelerator pedal became stuck and he could not lift it up with his right foot, while the car continued to accelerate.
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