AP reports that the government can’t explain the runaway Toyota incident that happened on the San Diego freeways last week.
James Sikes called from his Toyota Prius last Monday to report his car was accelerating out of control. He drove for more than 20 minutes before a California Highway Patrol officer helped him bring it to a stop.
The story has seemed fishy, perhaps even staged, to us for a number of reasons.
First, Sikes claims to have been standing on the brakes for a good bit of the time, finally telling the 911 operator he called that he smelled his brakes burning. At 90 miles an hour, there should have been fire coming out from under his car.
Second, he claims he couldn’t handle a number of logical methods to turn off the car, such as putting it in neutral, pressing the ignition-off button, etc., because he was afraid to take his hands off the wheel. And yet, he was talking on his cell phone. Ok, maybe he had a bluetooth (no word on this), but he apparently tried pulling UP on the accelerator — a very risky move for a guy who was afraid to take his hands from the wheel.
Third, the recording from the 911 operator seems odd. She too-quickly jumps to the conclusion that the accelerator is stuck, before Sikes mentions it (keep in mind there are only about 60 reports of this happening, nationwide). Second, she ASKS HIM FOR HIS TELEPHONE NUMBER. She’s from 911, right? They have caller id, right? Then she calls Border Patrol, she says. And it takes 20 minutes for anyone to get to this guy.
Fourth, the fact that the NHTSA boys can’t duplicate this problem is bothersome. As the AP story indicates, this fact leaves the question open, but normally, we’d think some aspects of the malfunction could be concretely identified.
Fifth, the incident appears to be a ploy for a lucrative lawsuit for Sikes and his shyster, John Gomez. Class action lawsuits have already been filed as well. Toyota’s mostly pristine record is being besmirched for money.
And for power. We’ve been suspicious of the sudden rise in “malfunctions” at Toyota. The company outsells the other American based automakers and it’s not unionized. We should consider who stands to benefit from this whole episode.
John C. Dvorak and Adam Curry, on their podcast No Agenda, humorously skewer the San Diego incident — Listen to it here (some explicit language).
Michael Fumento in Forbes.com also writes about the “Toyota Hybrid Horror Hoax”