Breaking News: CNN discovered confidential document confirming Toyota never knew sudden unintended acceleration was caused by electronic software

CNN has discovered a confidential memo revealing Toyota engineers were aware of an electronic software problem that caused sudden unintended acceleration in test vehicles during the pre-production phase. Engineers raised concerns of problems with the adaptive cruise-control software in a test model designated the 250L (later sold as the Lexus 460) and called for a “fail-safe overhaul” for another model, internally designated the 180L (later sold as the Toyota Tundra).  Read the English version of the memo.

“The cruise control activates by itself at full throttle when the accelerator pedal position sensor is abnormal,” states the document, written in Japanese and translated into English.

Toyota was under scrutiny in 2010 when a rash of claims were made of sudden unintended acceleration in their vehicles, however, both Toyota and the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) claimed that the problems were with bad floor mats, sticky accelerator pedals, and even driver error.

Toyota and the NHTSA’s conclusions were backed by the National Research Council, an arm of the National Academy of Sciences. In a January 18 report, the research council called the findings legitimate but warned that the NHTSA could face difficulties in examining increasingly complicated electronic systems unless it adds more electronics expertise to investigation teams.

Michael Pecht, director of the CALCE Electronics Products and Systems Center at the University of Maryland, was assigned to look into the claims as a consultant for Congress. Pecht questioned why the document wasn’t shared with NHTSA during the investigation. Toyota said it did not share the document with the NHTSA because “the test and the document had nothing to do with unintended acceleration, or a defect, or a safety flaw of any kind.”

Toyota electrical engineer Kristen Tabar said the sequence described in the test memo “takes place in a fraction of a second.” “This is a case where the vehicle is under test,” said Tabar, a manager at the Toyota Technical Center near Ann Arbor, Michigan. “Again, we input an abnormal signal. The vehicle reacts appropriately to that signal and releases the brake, just as we would expect it to do and want it to do. This has nothing to do with sudden unintended acceleration at all.”

Toyota says that the test vehicle “did not physically move forward” and that the experiment led to “an adjustment and refinement” of the cruise control before it went into production and that the issue has never occurred in any Toyota vehicle sold.

Toyota’s Excuse This Time- The Japanese to English Translation is Inaccurate!

Kristen Tabar, who does not even speak Japanese, claims that the translation of the document from Japanese to English is not accurate. “The exact translation is not ‘sudden unintended acceleration’….” “This is a test referring to adaptive cruise control, so the literal translation is, ‘it can begin or start by itself,’ which is consistent with what you would expect from a cruise control, or in this case, an adaptive cruise control system.”

CNN initially had the document translated by two different experts. When Toyota argued that both translations were in error, CNN commissioned a third translation by another firm in the United States with expertise in automotive and engineering translations. According to the third translation, Toyota’s engineers stated that a test was conducted on the 180L “to prevent the accelerator malfunction that caused the vehicle to accelerate on its own” in an earlier test of the 250L.

Instead of providing their own translation of the document (despite multiple requests by CNN) Toyota simply responded in a letter stating, “It is ironic and disheartening that a document that is actually evidence of Toyota’s robust vehicle design and pre-production testing to ensure safety is the apparent centerpiece for CNN’s broadcast.” Read the full letter.

Thanks to CNN- now it’s not just Plaintiffs attorneys who know Toyota is hiding something.

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