February 28, 2010 |
One car barreled through a stop sign, struck a tree and landed upside down in a Texas lake, drowning four people. Another tore across an Indiana street and crashed into a jewelry store. A third raced at an estimated 100 mph on a San Bernardino County street before striking a phone pole, killing the owner of a sushi restaurant. At least 56 people have died in U.S. traffic accidents in which sudden unintended acceleration of Toyota Motor Corp. vehicles has been alleged, according to a Times review of public records and interviews with authorities.
February 24, 2010 |
Apologizing for Toyota's missteps in dealing with defects blamed in dozens of fatalities, a contrite Akio Toyoda told members of Congress that his company's rapid growth had "confused" the priority it places on safety. "Quite frankly, I fear the pace at which we have grown may have been too quick," the president of Toyota Motor Corp. said during more than three hours of testimony. "I regret that this has resulted in the safety issues described in the recalls we face today, and I am deeply sorry for any accidents that Toyota drivers have experienced."
February 22, 2010 |
Toyota Motor Corp. officials took credit for saving hundreds of millions of dollars by persuading federal regulators to limit or avoid safety recalls and rules, a company document released Sunday shows. The document, an internal company presentation, depicts an automaker focused on getting what it termed "favorable recall outcomes" from regulators, with a goal of saving money even as the death toll climbed from accidents in which Toyota vehicles accelerated uncontrollably. The presentation by executives in the company's Washington, D.C., office was addressed to Yoshimi Inaba, Toyota's top U.S. executive, and dated July 6, 2009 -- months before the sudden-acceleration problem was widely known outside Toyota and the federal highway regulatory agency.
February 18, 2010 |
When some of the world's best-known companies faced disputes over secondhand smoke, toxic waste in the jungle and asbestos, they all turned to the same source for a staunch defense: Exponent Inc. Now that same engineering and consulting firm has been hired by Toyota Motor Corp. as it seeks to fend off claims that sudden acceleration in its vehicles could be caused by problems in its electronic throttle systems. A 56-page report that Menlo Park, Calif.-based Exponent sent to Congress on Feb. 9 found that the system behaved as intended and that Exponent was "unable to induce . . . unintended acceleration or behavior that might be a precursor to such an event."
February 10, 2010 |
In mid-2008 when the NHRA indefinitely shortened its top-fuel and funny car races for safety reasons, it raised a question: Should there be record speeds and times kept for that distance? The National Hot Rod Assn. initially decided no. But starting last September, the sanctioning body started allowing records for the shorter distance, partly because the records earn their drivers championship bonus points in the sport's top-level Full Throttle Series. The distance for NHRA drag racing always had been one-quarter mile, or 1,320 feet.
February 9, 2010 |
Toyota is recalling its 2010 Prius and Lexus hybrids worldwide because of brake problems, marking another setback for a carmaker already plagued with recalls and suspended sales because of safety issues. The recall will include 437,000 vehicles, including 133,000 Prius and 14,500 Lexus models in the U.S. to update software in their anti-lock brake systems. In addition, the company is recalling about 7,300 of its 4-cylinder 2010 Camrys in the U.S., also for a possible brake-related problem.
February 5, 2010 |
And now, the Lexus hybrid. Toyota Motor Corp.'s investigation into brake problems with its Prius hybrid bled over to the Prius' upscale cousin, the Lexus HS 250h hybrid, on Thursday. The mechanical parts that make up the brake system in the Lexus model are identical to those in Toyota's 2010 Prius, but the two gas-electric hybrid cars use different software systems to control the way the brakes are used, said Brian Lyons, a Toyota spokesman. Still, he said, the Lexus is now part of Toyota's investigation.
February 4, 2010 |
A new federal investigation into braking problems with Toyota Motor Corp.'s Prius hybrid is just one in a series of possible glitches that may be linked to the vehicle's complex electronics, including headlights that fail inexplicably, records and interviews show. Thursday, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said it had opened a formal investigation into the 2010 model Prius after getting 124 complaints from drivers of a brief loss in braking power, which has been blamed in four crashes, two of which resulted in injuries.
February 2, 2010 |
Toyota Motor Corp. announced a fix to its sticking gas pedal problem Monday, but the Japanese automaker must still convince a skeptical public that its latest action will prevent vehicles from accelerating out of control. Taking the offensive, Toyota escalated a media barrage it began over the weekend, sending a top U.S. executive to appear on NBC's "Today" show and other venues to detail the company's plans to repair pedals on millions of recalled vehicles in coming weeks. Toyota sought to assure its customers that the fix -- a steel shim that can be inserted in pedal assemblies in half an hour -- will resolve its ongoing woes with sudden acceleration.