Toyota announced over the weekend that the consulting company Exponent Inc which it had hired to look into the possibility of electronics being the cause of reported sudden unintended acceleration in its vehicles could not find any problems.
According to this report in the Wall Street Journal,Toyota hired Exponent in December "to understand customer reports and claims of unintended acceleration in vehicles." Exponent bought six Toyota and Lexus vehicles all equipped with the ETCS-i system (Electronic Throttle Control System with intelligence) for its testing, the WSJ says.
In a press release, Toyota said that, "The interim report, dated February 4, 2010, notes that Exponent was unable to induce unintended acceleration in any of the ETCS-i equipped Toyota and Lexus vehicles it tested. In all cases, the vehicle either behaved normally or entered a fail-safe mode where engine power was significantly reduced or shut off."
Toyota also said that it had given the report to Congress in anticipation of the up-coming hearings in front of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee and Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee.
Toyota's attorney sent a letter to the House committee late last week saying that Toyota had carried out exhaustive tests and doesn't think there are any electronic problems with its vehicles, but promised to look into the problem again, says this AP news report.
The letter also says that Toyota is considering expanding brake override capability to additional models beyond those listed in its recalls.
Toyota promises more information Wednesday about the progress of the recall of more than 400,000 Prius cars in which the anti-lock braking software is being replaced.
Robert N. Charette is a Contributing Editor to IEEE Spectrum and an acknowledged international authority on information technology and systems risk management. A self-described “risk ecologist,” he is interested in the intersections of business, political, technological, and societal risks. Charette is an award-winning author of multiple books and numerous articles on the subjects of risk management, project and program management, innovation, and entrepreneurship. A Life Senior Member of the IEEE, Charette was a recipient of the IEEE Computer Society’s Golden Core Award in 2008.