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Government Investigation Finds No Electronic Flaw In Toyotas

A government investigation into reports of sudden, unintentional acceleration of Toyota vehicles found that there were no electronic flaws that explained the the incidents.

"We enlisted the best and brightest engineers to study Toyota's electronics systems and the verdict is in. There is no electronic-based cause for unintended acceleration in Toyotas," Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said in a statement.

The AP reports:

Transportation officials and engineers with NASA say two mechanical safety defects previously identified by the government — sticking accelerator pedals and gas pedals that can become trapped in floor mats — are the only known causes for the reports of runaway Toyotas. Both issues were the subject of large recalls by Toyota.

The findings come after a 10-month study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Since the fall of 2009, Toyota has recalled more than 12 million vehicles globally.

Update at 3:14 p.m. ET: In a statement, Toyota said it hopes the study will put to rest any concerns about the electronic throttle control in its cars, "which is well-designed and well-tested to ensure that a real world, un-commanded acceleration of the vehicle cannot occur."

Update at 3:21 p.m. ET: The Detroit News has an extensive piece detailing the investigation. Essentially, they report, this is good news for Toyota. It should go a long way in putting to rest the question of whether Toyota took the less-expensive way out with its recalls. It's such good news that Toyota's stock jump 4.6 percent on the news.

The Detroit News also reports on what could come of the investigation:

NHTSA may propose mandatory brake override systems on all vehicles. That software upgrade allows a drive to stop a vehicle by pressing on the brake, even if the throttle is stuck.

Toyota and many other automakers already are making the systems standard on all new vehicles.

NHTSA also is considering proposing mandatory event data recorders — so-called black boxes — in all vehicles by the end of the year. The recorders would help investigators determine the cause of crash.

The government said it will begin a study to see if new rules should address the placement of gas and brake pedals to help drivers avoid hitting the wrong pedal or getting one stuck.

Update at 3:28 p.m. ET: At Time's The Curious Capalist, an opinon blog, Bill Saporito throws some cold water on Toyota's good news. He writes:

But Toyota's problem today isn't safety—the company long resolved those issues. The Feds have now confirmed it. The bigger issue is that Toyota's cars are boring, and in the aftermath of the recall customers have left the brand. This is a company that has to rebuild its design cred, not to mention its corporate culture.

Update at 3:31 p.m. ET: The Los Angeles Times reports on what's still on deck for Toyota:

Toyota also faces more than 100 lawsuits in state and federal courts linked to the sudden-acceleration problems over the last decade. Toyota settled at least one of those cases, agreeing to pay $10 million to the families of four people killed when a Lexus ES accelerated out of control near San Diego in 2009...

The Department of Transportation also commissioned a study by the National Academy of Sciences, which is expected to release its report in July.

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