Congress Asks Toyota for Brake-System Information
Toyota Motor Corp. must turn over information about brake-override technology in older model vehicles and describe the role a consulting firm plays in the investigation of unintended acceleration, two lawmakers said.
Toyota, the world’s largest automaker, was asked to discuss the override systems in cars such as the 2005 Camry, according to a letter House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Henry Waxman sent to the company today with Representative Bart Stupak, chairman of the oversight and investigations panel.
The Democratic lawmakers also asked Toyota, based in Toyota City, Japan, for information about the work that engineering and research firm Exponent Inc. is performing on unintended acceleration in Toyota vehicles. The lawmakers asked the company to contact the committee by July 6.
Toyota has been examined by U.S. lawmakers and auto-safety regulators after a series of recalls, most tied to unintended acceleration. Last week, the company halted sales of a new hybrid Lexus sedan because too much fuel spilled in government crash tests, posing a fire risk.
Waxman, of California, and Stupak, of Michigan, said in the letter supplied to reporters that Menlo Park, California-based Exponent “has not been fully cooperative with the committee’s requests.”
Mike Michels, a spokesman for Toyota’s U.S. operations, said he hadn’t seen a copy of the letter and couldn’t comment.
“We, of course, will cooperate with requests from the committee,” he said.
Toyota has cited Exponent test results in concluding electronic flaws aren’t causing its vehicles to suddenly accelerate, which led to the recalls of more than 8 million cars and trucks worldwide since last year.
Waxman and Stupak said technical experts notified them following an examination of a 2005 Camry that “some older model Toyotas may have a brake override function that activates when the vehicle’s electronic throttle control system registers a diagnostic trouble code.”
Toyota has promised, including in testimony this year before Waxman’s committee, to equip all new vehicles with brake- override software by model year 2011.
The lawmakers told Jim Lentz, Toyota’s U.S. sales chief, to provide the requested documents by July 12.