TeeJaw Blog

I Told You So — “The Dumb Buggers Stepped On the Gas Instead of the Brake”

Posted in Government and Politics by TeeJaw on Wednesday, February 9, 2011, 11: 24 AM

I said on March 15th of last year:

Don’t Worry About Toyota Prius — GasPedalGate is Just Another Media Hoax

No one dismisses how frightening it would be to find oneself in a suddenly out-of-control speeding automobile. But there is very little likelihood this is caused by a defect in the vehicle. It is almost always driver error of hitting the gas pedal instead of the brake or the floor mat slipping out of place and covering the gas pedal. The floor mat situation has happened to me at least twice that I can recall. Not in a Toyota but in a 1994 Jeep. In each instance it was a simple matter to pull the floor mat back with the heel of my right foot, and there was no danger to me or anyone else.

The finding by the NHTSA that no defect in Toyota cars could be found that might have led to sudden acceleration makes fools of those who believed it in the first place. After all, anyone will a memory should have known this was likely a rerun of the Audi 5000 and the Jeep Grand Cherokee hysteria of yesteryear.

But that doesn’t mean it will go away any time soon. Toyota has paid fines of $48 million, it’s CEO has sobbed in public and nearly soiled himself with his fulminating apologies and promises of untold settlements for “victims.”

The law suits will go on and Toyota will see no refund of the fines it paid for nothing at all. It’s reputation will remain in a cloud and probably deserves to for the cowardly way in which its top executives refused to “man up” and defend the truth and their company.

Here is an example of the new arguments and strategic positions now being tested for public resonance:

“The issue is not going to go away just because they didn’t find anything,” said Jeremy Anwyl, chief executive of Edmunds.com, which provides price quotes and reviews for vehicles. “The fact that they couldn’t replicate unintended acceleration doesn’t mean that it doesn’t exist, whatever the cause. It’s very hard to prove a negative. It was a good move to bring NASA in for credibility, but we haven’t moved the ball forward. This will be an issue that will continue to fester.”

And this from Clarence Ditlow:

“Their report points out that only one in 100,000 cars have had unintended acceleration, but then they tested only nine vehicles,” he said. As a result, he said, the odds of the scientists finding a vehicle with the problem were very slim.

See The Taint in the Toyota Probe for a rundown of the conflicts of interest in play, and the disreputable past of a couple of the players in this continuing drama.

The phrase in quotes in the title to this post are the words of P.J. O’Rourke during, I believe, the Jeep Grand Cherokee kurfluffle several years back.

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