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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.
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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problem, the role of regulators who oversee the industry -- and ultimately whether federal safety standards are grossly outdated, given the advanced electronics technology at the heart of modern car-making.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
February 10, 2010 | By Ken Bensinger and Ralph Vartabedian
Amid its widening recall crisis, Toyota Motor Corp. said it had moved closer to adopting changes to its push-button ignition system to give drivers an added margin of safety if their vehicles accelerate out of control. Executives at the company's headquarters in Japan are considering redesigning the keyless ignition system, known as Smart Key, to allow drivers to shut off the engine by tapping the button three times in a row, company spokesman Brian Lyons said. Currently, Toyota and Lexus vehicles with a push-button starter can be shut off when in motion only by depressing and holding the button for 3 full seconds, a procedure that safety experts have suggested is counterintuitive and can prolong runaway acceleration incidents.
BUSINESS
March 9, 2010 | By Nathan Olivarez-Giles
The driver of a Toyota Prius who called 911 on Monday to report his accelerator was stuck finally got the car stopped after about 20 minutes with the help of the California Highway Patrol, officers said. "He was reaching speeds over 90 miles per hour," CHP Officer Larry Landeros said of the driver, James Sikes. A Toyota spokesman said Monday evening that the company, which has recalled millions of vehicles because of reports of unintended acceleration, was sending a representative to investigate the cause of the incident.
BUSINESS
July 28, 2010 | By Ken Bensinger and Ralph Vartabedian, Los Angeles Times
Toyota Motor Corp. has argued for years that the electronic black boxes in its vehicles used unproven technology that could not be relied upon to determine the cause of accidents. Now, facing continued claims that its vehicles are defective, Toyota appears to have done an about-face. The Japanese automaker has been citing data from black boxes in Toyota and Lexus vehicles to suggest that driver error, rather than mechanical or electronic defects, is causing sudden acceleration.
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
February 23, 2010 | By Jerry Hirsch
Toyota Motor Corp. plans a more aggressive rollout of a system that cuts power to the engine when the brake and gas pedals in a vehicle are pressed at the same time. The system is meant to be an extra safeguard against the type of sudden-acceleration problems that have prompted the company to recall millions of vehicles worldwide. The brake override system will be built into most new Toyota models sold in the United States by the end of 2010, the company said. The announcement came as James Lentz, president of Toyota's U.S. operations, apologized to consumers for the automaker's safety and reliability problems at a hearing of the House Energy and Commerce Committee's investigative subcommittee Tuesday.
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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