CNN and other news outlets have reported that an internal Toyota document created in 2002 identified electronic problems as the cause for "engine surge" in 2002 Toyota Camry models. This "smoking gun" document directly refutes what Toyota has spent and unlimited budget trying to sell the public: that Toyota electronics are not to blame for Toyota’s ongoing sudden acceleration crisis.
Toyota’s attempt to discredit its accusers rather than to actually fix the deadly problem that has injured thousands across the country is sad, but not unexpected.
This is yet another example of Toyota trying to do some fast talking to manipulate and confuse the public about the sudden acceleration problem. Toyota wants you to ignore what it put on paper before the crisis and believe what it’s telling you now.
Toyota is now telling us: "American public, ignore what our engineers wrote on paper and distributed to our dealers in 2002 and believe what we’re saying now. That document doesn’t say was it says."
Which are you going to believe: what Toyota says or what Toyota actually does?
When automotive professor, David Gilbert, created a test that showed Toyota’s electronics could cause sudden unintended acceleration, Toyota’s litigation defense lawyers used an "unlimited budget" to buy testing designed solely to discredit Professor Gilbert’s test (a test that Toyota officials admitted to Congress that Toyota had been able to reproduce).
Toyota engineers did not develop a test to see if they correct the design flaw that permitted electronically induced acceleration. Rather, Toyota’s defense lawyers used hired guns to discredit an independent automotive professor that dared to challenge Toyota’s public statements.
Rather than focusing on a solution to the sudden acceleration crisis, Toyota has remained steadfastly focuses on protecting its image rather than protecting its drivers. Toyota continues to put market share and profits ahead of safety and human life.
Toyota went so far as to create internal company documents bragging about how Toyota "wins" when safety loses. In fact, Toyota bragged about saving more than $100 million when it used its special interest lobbyists — former NHTSA safety officials hired by Toyota — to avoid a sudden acceleration recall in 2007. Only a month after Toyota’s bragging document was produced, a family of four was killed when their Lexus vehicle accelerated out of control in California.
Major media outlets are finally asking questions posed here weeks ago: What other Toyota vehicles have problems and why haven’t they been recalled? Toyota still has not recalled several model years of its Toyota Camry vehicle. Independent safety experts, such as Sean Kane of Safety Research and Strategies, have found that the 2002-06 Camry suffers one of the highest rates of sudden unintended acceleration, but has not been recalled by Toyota. Now, according to NBC News, Clarence Ditlow of the Center for Auto Safety says more crashes of Toyota Camry vehicles "raises a huge red flag."
At least four independent safety experts separately concluded that Toyota doesn’t really know what causes its sudden unintended acceleration problem and, therefore, doesn’t really know how to fix it. Toyota has continued to ignore electrical problems and electromagnetic interference as a cause of sudden acceleration. However, safety experts identified electromagnetic interference as a cause more than five years ago.
Throughout the sudden acceleration time line, one thing has been consistent: Toyota has consistently misled the public about the nature and severity of the Toyota sudden acceleration problem. When given the opportunity to come forward with information, Toyota has chosen lie after lie after lie.
You can view the time line of Toyota’s checkered safety history here.
Toyota has a well-documented history of attempted cover-ups of safety problems. The Detroit Free Press has documented how Toyota has stonewalled the investigation of these problems since at least 2003.
After dragging its feet and being called "safety deaf" on the sudden acceleration recall, Toyota did it again when Toyota knew of the problems with its Prius brakes long before warning its drivers, customers and innocent motorists. Not only are the multiple Toyota recalls hurting consumers, they are hurting rental car companies as well.
Now, Toyota has said its own data recorders are not reliable. What are these black boxes saying that has Toyota withholding this evidence. If these black boxes said that drivers were hitting the gas pedal instead of the brake, you know Toyota would be holding these black boxes up in front of every television camera and microphone in the country. What else is Toyota covering up?
It’s time that the public finally hold Toyota accountable for putting profits over safety and money over lives.
Brett Emison is currently a partner at Langdon & Emison, a firm dedicated to helping injured victims across the country from their primary office near Kansas City. Mainly focusing on catastrophic injury and death cases as well as complex mass tort and dangerous drug cases, Mr. Emison often deals with automotive defects, automobile crashes, railroad crossing accidents (train accidents), trucking accidents, dangerous and defective drugs, defective medical devices.