Responding to a report aired on CNN’s Anderson Cooper 360, Toyota has issued the following statement:
In the face of overwhelming scientific evidence to the contrary, CNN has irresponsibly aired a grossly inaccurate segment on Anderson Cooper 360 that attempts to resurrect the discredited, scientifically unproven allegation that there is a hidden defect in Toyota’s electronic throttle control system that can cause unintended acceleration.
Exhaustive investigations undertaken by some of the most respected engineers and scientific institutions in America – including NASA, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the National Academy of Sciences – have thoroughly debunked this worn-out fabrication. Yet a group of trial lawyers suing Toyota for money and their paid advocates are continuing their efforts to manufacture controversy where none exists and have used CNN to support their narrow, self-serving agenda.
CNN’s story was premised on an egregiously inaccurate translation of a Toyota document produced in litigation that references a stress test evaluation conducted on a prototype (preproduction) vehicle in development. For example, CNN’s mistranslation contains the phrase “sudden unintended acceleration.” These words never appear in the Japanese language document referenced by CNN. The translation of “勝手に,” which appears in the document, actually translates to “by itself” (as it does in the first translation by CNN) or “on its own”… and “発進” correctly translates to “starts out.” This phrase “starts out on its own” is used to refer to the fact that the adaptive cruise control (ACC) was preparing to resume its pre-set speed. This is not a reference to sudden unintended acceleration. In fact, notes from the translator hired by
CNN explicitly acknowledge that: “I added these words based on my understanding of the context.”
This test, intentionally designed to artificially simulate a failed accelerator pedal sensor, demonstrated that Toyota’s electronics and fail-safes worked exactly designed within milliseconds to prevent the vehicle from accelerating. Contrary to CNN’s allegation, no “sudden unintended acceleration” occurred nor is it referenced in the Japanese language document. It was for this very reason that Toyota did not provide this document to the NHTSA in the course of its exhaustive analysis of Toyota’s electronics. There is simply no basis for CNN’s assertion that Toyota withheld this document from the government or that it would have made any difference in the conclusions of the unprecedented engineering analysis conducted by NASA and the NHTSA.
Importantly, the Japanese language document describes a condition intentionally induced during prototype testing of the ACC that has never existed in any vehicle ever produced or sold by Toyota anywhere in the world.
In its broadcast, CNN also highlights unverified customer complaints to the NHTSA and includes reference to at least one expert paid for by lawyers suing Toyota. With respect to the complaint by Tanya Spotts involving a low-speed parking incident, the vehicle’s Event Data Recorder conclusively demonstrates that the driver was on and off of the accelerator pedal in the seconds before impact and did not apply the brake pedal until approximately 0.4 seconds prior to impact, while travelling at 9 MPH. This data is entirely consistent with pedal misapplication. Complaints like this are not unique to Toyota. In fact, in 2011 alone the NHTSA received consumer claims of low speed unintended acceleration events while parking for vehicles from twelve manufacturers other than Toyota.
It is ironic and disheartening that a document that actually reinforces Toyota’s robust vehicle design and pre-production prototype testing to validate the safety of its vehicles in development was the centerpiece of this segment. Notwithstanding CNN’s irresponsible, inaccurate broadcast, we are gratified that Toyotas are once again widely recognized by leading independent evaluators as among the safest and most reliable in the world.