Toyota Disputes Critics Who Blame Electronics

Toyota says it has proved that faulty electronics are not to blame for runaway cars and trucks that have been recalled. On Monday, the automaker assembled a group of experts, who said that unwanted acceleration is caused by mechanical flaws. Other experts disagree.

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STEVE INSKEEP, host:

Well, Toyota has apologized for trouble with its cars, but it's also fighting back. After 8 and a half million recalled vehicles, the carmaker has started to refute claims that incidents of sudden acceleration have an electronic cause as opposed to a physical one.

NPR's Brian Naylor reports.

BRIAN NAYLOR: At a congressional hearing last month, a Southern Illinois University professor testified he was able to cause a Toyota Tundra truck to accelerate rapidly, in such a way that the vehicle's computer could not detect the surge and therefore, stop it.

It's a big issue for Toyota. The company has insisted that its problems with sudden acceleration are not caused by the vehicle's electronics but because of sticky gas pedals, and floor mats that can jam the accelerator.

But Chris Gerdes, director of Stanford University's Center for Automotive Research, said the Illinois professor's test involved stripping wires and bypassing circuits, conditions that were not likely to be duplicated in everyday driving conditions.

Professor CHRIS GERDES (Director, Stanford University Center for Automotive Research): The report, therefore, contains no evidence of any real-world circuit malfunction that the Toyota system can not detect.

NAYLOR: The tests were shown on a Webcast to reporters yesterday, the first step in a pushback by the company against charges Toyota has ignored the problem causing the unintended acceleration.

Brian Naylor, NPR News, Washington.

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