The case of the runaway Toyota Prius in San Diego highlights the challenges facing Toyota when claims are made about hard-to-trace glitches.
The incident, which received wide national coverage, happened Monday when James Sikes called 911, saying the accelerator in his Prius was stuck and he couldn't slow down. The happening was thought to be another in a string of alleged incidents related to glitches which, in rare cases, may cause uncontrolled acceleration in the Toyota Prius.
But now, Sikes' motives are being questioned by car site Jalopnik, as well as by USA Today. A report from a local Sacramento TV station investigated Sikes' past, also calling into question his motives.
All reports state that Sikes, who filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in 2008, had large debt loads. And USA Today says Sikes had cars repossessed in the past and that his leased Prius was his only remaining car, which he would have to give back in a few months. Though these facts alone do not necessarily add up to an indictment, the veracity of his claims are now being questioned on technical grounds by car Web site Edmunds.com.
Sikes did not return calls to his business.
"It doesn't add up," said Dan Edmunds, director of vehicle testing at Edmunds.com, which just completed a test Friday of a Toyota Prius that's the same generation as the Prius in Sikes' case. (See the Edmunds.com video here.) "I just held the throttle wide open with my right foot and then I pressed on the brakes with my left foot. When you overlap the brake and the throttle in that car, the engine decouples, and the brakes take over completely."
"That's protection that's in the Prius drive train because of the hybrid nature of the vehicle," Edmunds said.
Sikes has claimed otherwise.… Read more