NPR logo Toyota's Top Engineer: Car Electronics Not At Fault

Toyota's Top Engineer: Car Electronics Not At Fault

Toyota Motor Corp.'s chief engineer told U.S. lawmakers on Tuesday that the auto maker had completely ruled out its cars' electronic throttles as having a role in cases of sudden unintended acceleration.

Meanwhile, company officials told members of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee that they would make "black boxes" from vehicles available to U.S. investigators but explained that Japanese engineers would have to be on hand to interpret the data from the devices.

As reporter Jim Puzzanghera reported for the Los Angeles Times:

Toyota Motor Corp.'s chief engineer said Tuesday that the company had done extensive testing on the electronic system in its vehicles and company officials are confident it is not the cause of the sudden acceleration that has led to massive recalls.

"I want to be absolutely clear: As a result of our extensive testing, we do not believe sudden unintended acceleration because of a defect in our [electronic throttle control system] has ever happened," said Takeshi Uchiyamada, who also is a company executive vice president. "However, we will continue to search for any event in which such a failure could occur."

Toyota has sold 40 million vehicles with such a system, he said, but "there was not a single case" where they could identify the electronic throttle control system was the cause of the unintended acceleration.

Uchiyamada echoed top Toyota official Akio Toyoda who told House lawmakers that the company hadn't found any evidence that electronic flaws have caused numerous cars to accelerate. Toyota has instead blamed a sticky gas pedal and intrusive floor mats for the problems that have caused a number of fatalities.

Others, however, including lawmakers and some auto experts, suspect the electronic throttles as causing at least some of the cases of sudden acceleration.

As for the "black boxes," which record various performance data of the cars, the Japanese executives said they would make some of them available to investigators. Toyota had previously sounded non-committal about giving U.S. access to the data recorders since company officials said the data could only be interpreted by Toyota engineers.

The Associated Press reported:

The executives said the automaker will start making available to U.S. safety regulators sophisticated electronic readers capable of deciphering "black box" data on Toyotas involved in sudden acceleration episodes.

Yoshimi Inaba, the president of Toyota Motor North America, said the company would be delivering three data readers to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration on Wednesday and hoped to make the data more accessible to other systems by the middle of 2011.