For Toyota, the crucial question is the electronics - latimes.com
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For Toyota, the crucial question is the electronics
The company vigorously denies that its vehicles' acceleration problems might stem
from an electronic or software glitch. But it remains an open question, and any such
finding would be devastating.
By Ken Bensinger and Ralph Vartabedian
February 14, 2010
In the nearly five months since it launched a string of recalls to
stop its cars from accelerating out of control, Toyota Motor
Corp. has been adamant about one thing: It's not the
Company officials first put the blame on floor mats that could
entrap the accelerator, later amending that to include gas pedals
themselves that could stick.
But they have vigorously asserted that there is no evidence of a
glitch in the electronics or software that could cause cars to
malfunction, a "ghost in the machine."
Some independent safety experts, congressional investigators
and others are just as certain that the risk of an electronic flaw
is being dismissed by Toyota without an adequate examination.
The causes of unintended acceleration remain under investigation, but an admission by Toyota that sudden
acceleration was caused by an electronic defect would be a devastating blow to the company's already damaged
reputation for quality, say engineers, attorneys and experts in crisis management.
Compared with mechanical problems such as floor mats and sticky gas pedals, an electronic hardware or
software glitch can be difficult to find, costly to fix and would open Toyota to a new onslaught of lawsuits, these
"Every car accident that took place for years will suddenly be blamed on electronics," said Ted Frank, an attorney
and founder of the Center for Class Action Fairness.
And considering the fact that every Toyota vehicle sold in the U.S. since the 2007 model year has an electronic
throttle, with some models using the system dating to the 2002 model year, the number of potentially affected
vehicles could reach into eight figures.
"It's a big potential problem for Toyota," Frank said.