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Late last week, it was announced that the lawsuit between Toyota and the relatives of the Saylor family has been settled. As you may remember, 19-year veteran California Highway Patrol Officer Mark Saylor, his wife, teenage daughter and brother-in-law Chris Lastrella were killed in a horrible car crash in San Diego in August of 2009. Their borrowed 2009 Lexus ES 350 was traveling at 120 mph at the time, and despite his best efforts, Officer Saylor couldn't stop or slow down the car.

The publicity surrounding the crash sparked several US government investigations (e.g., this one by the Committee on Energy & Commerce) into sudden unintended acceleration (SUA) of Toyota vehicles, and a recall of millions of Toyota vehicles to replace their floor mats and or fix their gas pedals. It also sparked a US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) inquiry into whether Toyota's ETCS-i system (Electronic Throttle Control System with intelligence) is also a source of SUA, something which Toyota vehemently denies.

This LA Timesarticle quotes Toyota as saying:

 "Toyota and the Saylor and Lastrella families reached an amicable agreement in mediation that fully resolves their product liability claims against Toyota."

"Through mutual respect and cooperation, we were able to resolve this matter without the need for litigation."

Terms of the agreement will likely remain sealed.

Toyota also moved last week to have more than 300 lawsuits against the company involving alleged sudden acceleration caused by problems with its ETCS-i system be dismissed. Toyota wants the suits dismissed, this ABCNewsstory reports, because it says that:

"... even after months of intense publicity and multiple scientific investigations, the plaintiffs have neither cited nor identified any specific defect in Toyota's Electronic Throttle Control System that causes unintended acceleration." 

In other news, Toyota also admitted last week that there was a problem in the software used to read its event data recorders. Toyota said the data in the event data recorder was correct, but an error in the software used to interpret the speed data would sometimes indicate the car was traveling faster than it really was. In one accident, the software indicated a Tundra pickup was traveling at about 177 mph.

The NHTSA inquiry into unintended acceleration and electronic vehicle controls is scheduled to be completed in 2011.

The Conversation (0)

We Need More Than Just Electric Vehicles

To decarbonize road transport we need to complement EVs with bikes, rail, city planning, and alternative energy

11 min read
A worker works on the frame of a car on an assembly line.

China has more EVs than any other country—but it also gets most of its electricity from coal.

VCG/Getty Images
Green

EVs have finally come of age. The total cost of purchasing and driving one—the cost of ownership—has fallen nearly to parity with a typical gasoline-fueled car. Scientists and engineers have extended the range of EVs by cramming ever more energy into their batteries, and vehicle-charging networks have expanded in many countries. In the United States, for example, there are more than 49,000 public charging stations, and it is now possible to drive an EV from New York to California using public charging networks.

With all this, consumers and policymakers alike are hopeful that society will soon greatly reduce its carbon emissions by replacing today’s cars with electric vehicles. Indeed, adopting electric vehicles will go a long way in helping to improve environmental outcomes. But EVs come with important weaknesses, and so people shouldn’t count on them alone to do the job, even for the transportation sector.

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