Toyota: Throttle Malfunctions “Extraordinarily Unlikely”

Mar 10, 2010

Toyota is rejecting a university professor’s test that claims to show that electronic throttle systems on Toyota cars could cause unintended acceleration saying the test was simply not realistic.

Dr. David Gilbert of Southern Illinois University performed a demonstration of how the problem could occur in an ABC News broadcast in late February. Later, Gilbert testified before a Congressional hearing looking into unintended acceleration in Toyota cars.

“Dr. Gilbert’s demonstration, as shown on the ABC News web site, amounts to little more than connecting three of the six pedal sensor wires to an engineered circuit to achieve engine revving,” said Exponent, a research firm hired by Toyota.

Gilbert said that he overrode a built-in safety feature, allowing faulty pedal signals to go to the engine with no problem being detected by the car’s on-board computer.  Exponent, the research firm hired by Toyota, was able to replicate Gilbert’s results but says that the test presents an unrealistic situation that has virtually no chance of happening in the real world.

“For such an event to happen in the real world requires a sequence of faults that is extraordinarily unlikely,” the report continues.

Exponent was also able to replicate the same sequence of short circuits, with the same result, in other automakers’ cars, which would undercut the allegation that the problem would be somehow unique to Toyotas.

A representative for Southern Illinois University said that Dr. Gilbert has already met with Toyota representatives and that more meetings are planned. 

Photo courtesy of .LarryPage under the Creative Commons License