A sensationalist news story from CNN about sudden unintended acceleration in a Lexus pre-production test vehicle has been condemned by the automaker, who have called the report “grossly inaccurate” and a “worn-out fabrication.”
Citing a confidential engineering document written in Japanese, CNN ran a segment on Anderson Cooper 360 that tests of a Lexus LS 460 prototype revealed electronic software issues that resulted in “sudden unintended acceleration”, and suggested that Toyota held back this document from NHTSA & NASA investigators during their investigations.
Needless to say, Toyota was not amused with these accusations, here’s some quote from their public response:
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.
This [prototype] 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.
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.
That CNN would use prototype testing as proof of problems with production models is beyond ridiculous, as was their interview with Lexus ES 350 owner Tanya Spotts, who claimed her car surged forward and caused her to hit a wall while parking — here’s what Toyota had to say about the Spotts incident:
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.
So it’s now journalism to ignore real data and instead rely on statements from someone with a financial incentive to misrepresent the truth?
Honestly, I have no idea how this CNN report passed editorial inspection — just plain embarrassing.