Mar. 09, 2010

Comprehensive Analysis Raises Concern About Professor's
U.S. Congressional Testimony, ABC News Segment

Tokyo—TOYOTA MOTOR CORPORATION (TMC) announces U.S. sales subsidiary Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A., Inc. replicated on March 8 (in the U.S.) a recent demonstration of an "unintended acceleration" event by Professor David Gilbert of Southern Illinois University of the United States.  The replication—using representative vehicles of other makes during a live media webcast—raises serious concerns about the validity, methodology and credibility of a February 22 (in the U.S.) demonstration by Gilbert shown in a broadcast and website segment of ABC News.

Based on a comprehensive analysis that covered in-house tests and an ongoing evaluation of Toyota's electronic throttle control system by leading engineering and scientific consulting firm Exponent, Inc., Toyota has concluded the following:

  • In the Gilbert demonstration, the vehicle's electronics were rewired and reengineered in multiple ways, in a specific sequence and under conditions that are virtually impossible to occur in real-world conditions without visible evidence.
  • In the Gilbert demonstration, the Toyota vehicle electronic systems were actively manipulated to mimic a full-throttle condition.
  • Substantially similar results could be successfully created in vehicles made by other manufacturers.

Toyota has concluded that the unrealistic sequence and nature of artificially manipulated faults created by Gilbert do not provide evidence that a characteristic defect exists in a Toyota, Lexus or any other brand vehicle.  In fact, engineers at Exponent, as well as engineers at Toyota, have reviewed and replicated Gilbert's demonstration with substantially similar results in representative vehicles of other makes.

At Toyota's request, Dr. J. Christian Gerdes, associate professor of mechanical engineering at Stanford University and director of the Center for Automotive Research at Stanford (CARS), conducted an independent review of testimony and a preliminary report Gilbert recently presented to the U.S. Congress.

Exponent and Gerdes' separate findings were demonstrated in the webcast, during which the accelerator circuitry of a Toyota Avalon large sedan, as well as a sampling of well-regarded and popular competitive makes, was rewired and manipulated as Gilbert did in his demonstration.

Previously, at a hearing of the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation on March 2, TMC Executive Vice President Takeshi Uchiyamada testified that: "As a result of our extensive testing, we do not believe sudden unintended acceleration because of a defect in our ETCS (electronic throttle control system) has ever happened.  However, we will continue to search for any event in which such a failure could occur.  In order to further validate the safety of our ETCS, we have asked Exponent, a world-class engineering and scientific consulting firm, to conduct its own independent, comprehensive evaluation."

An interim report by Exponent has already been provided to the U.S. Congress.  As soon as Exponent has completed its evaluation, the final results, as well as data and information necessary for validation by others, will be made public.

By using advanced technologies such as event data recorders and others, TMC intends to further heighten the level of safety in its vehicles.