As Congress investigates Toyota and how they mishandled the infamous gas pedal problem, company documents point to an intentional misleading of the general public and governmental officials about the source of the problem and the severity. Back in 2004, the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration informed Toyota that Camry’s with electronic throttle control systems (ETCS) had a 400 percent higher risk of sudden acceleration than Camry’s with manual systems, according to the Huffington Post.

Despite this evidence, Toyota denied the problem was rooted in the ETCS. They claimed it was just a minor issue with the floor mats. Once that failed to solve the problem, the company claimed the gas pedal was simply too long. Even today, after over 8.5 million Toyota cars have been recalled, the company does not believe the problem is with the ETCS. This is despite the fact that their own legal counsel informed Congress that a “sticky pedal does not usually translate in a sudden, unintended acceleration event.”

So why aren’t they fixing the ETCS? Probably because the cost associated with replacing, or dramatically altering a piece of electronic equipment so engrained in their car system is viewed as a bad expense. Never mind the fact that Toyota is estimated to lose nearly $2 billion due to this issue, according to the CBC News. 

What’s really disturbing is Congressman Bart Stupak saying that roughly 70 percent of the sudden acceleration incidences in Toyota’s customer call database involved cars that are not included in the 2009 and 2010 floor mat and gas pedal recalls, according to the Post article. This means there could still be a large number of Toyota cars on the road that might speed up suddenly and cause a major car wreck and potentially serious injury to the driver/passengers.

Here’s a video discussing the issues surrounding Toyota…

Congress estimates that 760 car crashes may be connected to the sudden acceleration problem in a variety of Toyota cars. This estimate is based on Toyota’s own customer complaint database. Why didn’t Toyota act on these complaints? Well, one driver who wound up crashing into a fence after their Toyota suddenly accelerated was informed the company believed accidents of this nature were due to “driver error.”

It’s this type of response that really crystallizes Toyota’s attitude toward the sudden acceleration problem. They appear to have routinely shunned facts and evidence while keeping their eyes focused on profits and maintaining a good public image. Ironically, both their profits and image are crumbling, especially as more information about their handling of these issues comes to light.