Something to keep in mind with all the ruckus about Toyota's sudden acceleration
It took Audi 15 years to rebuild its U.S. sales to the level the company had achieved before the CBS show "60 Minutes" made sudden acceleration a household phrase in November 1986.
The "60 Minutes" segment, featuring the late Ed Bradley, showed owners of the Audi 5000 sedan who said their cars had suddenly and unexpectedly surged out of control. Some of the people were suing the company.
To dramatize the problem, "60 Minutes" showed an Audi 5000 moving on its own. Later, a consultant for plaintiffs lawyers disclosed he had altered the car's transmission for the shot, according to media reports.
In a subsequent report, the show discussed a 1989 study sponsored by the U.S. government that concluded the sudden acceleration in Audis was largely the result of driver mistakes, not mechanical issues.
A "60 Minutes" spokesman said, "There's nothing to add to the last update, broadcast 21 years ago, that included the NHTSA findings." . . .
Another article in the WSJ raises real questions about whether the latest incident involved fraud.
On Monday James Sikes, 61 years old, called 911 and told the operator his blue 2008 Toyota Prius had sped up to more than 90 miles per hour on its own on Interstate 8 near San Diego. He eventually brought the vehicle to a stop after a California Highway patrolman pulled alongside Mr. Sikes and offered help.
During and after the incident, Mr. Sikes said he was using heavy pressure on his brake pedal at high speeds.
But the investigation of the vehicle, carried out jointly by safety officials from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and Toyota engineers, didn't find signs the brakes had been applied at full force at high speeds over a sustained period of time, the three people familiar with the investigation said.
The brakes were discolored and showed wear, but the pattern of friction suggested the driver had intermittently applied moderate pressure on the brakes, these people said, adding the investigation didn't find indicators of the heavy pressure described by Mr. Sikes. . . .
The investigation's findings aren't 100% conclusive and still must be finalized. But they are likely to cast doubt on how the situation was described by Mr. Sikes. . . .
During the 911 call, the operator urged Mr. Sikes to shift the car into neutral. He later said he was afraid doing so might cause the car to "flip" or shift into reverse. . . .
A reader points me to an interesting article by Michael Fumento that indicates that at least the most recent event in California looks fraudulent. Thanks to juandos for the link.