Toyota and the unintended acceleration issue that resulted in more than eight million Toyota and Lexus cars being recalled in 2009 and 2010 has resurfaced yet again. CNN's Anderson Cooper 360 program aired a segment earlier this week stating that it obtained documents written by Toyota engineers in 2006 that showed there was a problem with its adaptive cruise control system that CNN said resulted in "sudden unintended acceleration."
Toyota called the segment irresponsible and inaccurate in a statement, further saying that the document cited in the broadcast actually shows the adaptive cruise control system operating as expected for the situation being tested.
At issue is the English translation of a 2006 engineering document written by Toyota in Japan which explains the results of a software test of an adaptive cruise control system in a pre-production Lexus. CNN said its three independent translations of the document to English all prove Toyota was aware of a problem with "sudden unintended acceleration" associated with the adaptive cruise control system, which is designed to slow when it senses an object, such as a car, in the way, and accelerate to the desired speed when the path is clear.
Toyota says the document accurately describes the system's proper function in the abnormal situation in which the accelerator pedal sensor fails and that the translation is the cause for the confusion.
In a statement responding to the CNN broadcast, Toyota said:
CNN's mistranslation contains the phrase "sudden unintended acceleration." These words never appear in the Japanese language document referenced by CNN. The translation of "勝手に," which appears in the document, actually translates to "by itself" (as it does in the first translation by CNN) or "on its own" … and "発進" correctly translates to "starts out." This phrase "starts out on its own" is used to refer to the fact that the adaptive cruise control (ACC) was preparing to resume its preset speed. This is not a reference to sudden unintended acceleration. In fact, notes from the translator hired by CNN explicitly acknowledge that: "I added these words based on my understanding of the context."
Toyota further said in the statement that the situation created by the adaptive cruise control system used in the test has "never existed in any vehicle ever produced or sold by Toyota anywhere in the world."
Tara Baukus Mello writes the cars blog as well as the weekly Driving for Dollars column, providing both practical financial advice for consumers as well as insight into the latest developments in the automotive world. Follow her on Facebook here or on Twitter @SheDrives.