Surprise! Toyota Wins Unintended Acceleration Sweepstakes

Edward Niedermeyer
by Edward Niedermeyer

We thought we’d seen the last of the unintended acceleration crazes come and go for good nearly two decades ago. We were wrong. Somehow, like Camaros, Chrysler bailouts and Whitney Houston, the phenomenon has clawed its way back into the American consciousness this year. Consumer Reports even devotes an entire study to the number of unintended acceleration complaints lodged against the 2008 model-year with the NHTSA. Unsurprisingly, the big winner was Toyota, with 41 percent of the complaints, Ford came in second with 28 percent while Chrysler had nine percent. But wait, how many cases were there in total? Only 166? So, of the 2.2m vehicles Toyota sold in 2008, a total of 52 complaints were lodged about a phenomenon with no good mechanical explanation… and Consumer Reports wants us to believe that this is statistically significant?

CR writes:

Toyota has announced several steps it is taking to mitigate the risks of floor-mat entrapment and provide “smart throttle” technology (allowing the brake pedal to override the accelerator), but our analysis indicates other problems likely exist.

Hey, same here. Only our analysis says that unintended acceleration is caused by stupid drivers, a problem that no number of gizmos will ever fix. But rather than call it like it is, CR is using their study to scare folks with the prospect that their Toyota might just become possessed by some mysterious force and kill everything in its path. “It looks like the problem may be beyond floor mats,” CR’s Jeff Bartlett tells the LA Times, which in turn shamelessly propagates the allegedly mystery behind unintended acceleration. Instead of scaremongering, CR should take off the tin foil chapeau and try demonstrating some kind of causality behind this phantom menace. Or better yet, they should help remind people that cars don’t unintentionally accelerate, people do.

Edward Niedermeyer
Edward Niedermeyer

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  • Steven02 Steven02 on Dec 08, 2009

    For a site that calls itself the truth about cars and desires journalist integrity, why assume that Toyota is not at fault here? Why post a story about how another driver of the same vehicle was able to deal with it in the title instead of dealer warned about this issue on the car that killed people? Why not give Toyota some scrutiny on this issue? I can only imagine the stories had it been a GM vehicle with this problem.

  • Cleek Cleek on Dec 09, 2009

    Most auto safety features are there to address the failings of drivers. Offering "smart throttle", etc. is just plain sensible. It is certainly a more useful investment than the legalese that gets printed warning folks off of the obvious.

  • Ted Lulis Head gaskets and Toyota putting my kids through college👍️
  • Leonard Ostrander Plants don't unionize. People do, and yes, of course the workers should organize.
  • Jalop1991 Here's something EVangelists don't want to talk about, and why range is important: battery warranties, by industry standard, specify that nothing's wrong with the battery, and they won't replace it, as long as it is able to carry 70% or more of its specified capacity.So you need a lot of day 1 capacity so that down the road, when you're at 70% capacity with a "fully functioning, no problem" car, you're not stuck in used Nissan Leaf territory."Nothing to see here, move along."There's also the question of whether any factory battery warranty survives past the original new car owner. So it's prudent of any second owner to ask that question specifically, and absent any direct written warranty, assume that the second and subsequent owners own any battery problems that may arise.And given that the batteries are a HUGE expense, much more so than an ICE, such exposure is equally huge."Nothing to see here, move along."
  • Roger hopkins The car is in Poland??? It does look good tho...
  • Kwik_Shift_Pro4X The push for EV's is part of the increase in our premiums. Any damage near the battery pack and the car is a total loss.