Toyota knew acceleration problems for 'long time' - KCTV5

Toyota knew acceleration problems for 'long time'

Updated: February 1, 2010
NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) -

Toyota's president admitted Monday the company has known about acceleration problems for a "long time."

In 2007, when the Channel 4 I-Team first starting airing stories on sudden acceleration in Toyota vehicles, Toyota's message was clear: It wasn't aware of complaints, and it wasn't looking into it.

Next week, a congressional hearing will focus on what Toyota and government agencies did know, and when.

Two years ago, more than 100 Toyota drivers -- more than any other company -- had filed complaints with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, or NHTSA.

One came from middle Tennessee resident Frank Visconi, who said his Tacoma just took off on him and crashed.

At that time, the former director of NHTSA expressed serious concern about the I-Team's findings, as did a leading auto safety expert.

"I think what you have encountered here is a safety defect of significant proportions," said Joan Claybrook.

Monday, Rep. Jim Cooper of Nashville said he's wondering why the government and the company didn't act faster.

"Think of the lives that could have been saved, the money that could have been saved if the federal government had just responded quickly, if they responded to what you found in 2007," Cooper said.

He sits on a congressional committee that will hold a hearing next week to investigate Toyota and the federal government's response. He said the I-Team's stories will be part of that congressional hearing.

"At least show the footage that you aired for local viewers here, because that was a real heads-up for the nation these great cars had a problem and the problem needed to be fixed, and yet we waited two to three years before any action was taken," said Cooper.

On Monday morning's "Today" show, Toyota president Jim Lentz said the company knew about sudden acceleration problems but wasn't specific for how long.

In the midst of the I-Team's 2007 investigation, NHTSA announced it would test a single Tacoma to see if it could duplicate the sudden acceleration problem.

The test on that single vehicle couldn't duplicate it, but driver after driver kept complaining.

NHTSA investigated six complaints with formal investigations.

A 2009 NHTSA investigation indicated the only common problem is the floor mat issue. Still, the driver featured in this report echoed what others drivers, like Frank Visconi, had said: the floor mats weren't the problem.

Still, no recall was announced.

In August 2009, a family of four died when their rented Toyota Lexus crashed. The next month, Toyota announced it would be recalling the 2007 Tacoma and millions of other vehicles because of floor mat entrapment.

"Did Toyota drag its feet, knowing it had a life-threatening problem, did your company drag its feet?" asked "Today" host Matt Lauer.

"No, I didn't believe we did," Lentz said.

He did say Toyota was able to verify and duplicate the gas pedal problem in October 2009 but didn't say when or if the company ever verified or duplicated the floor mat problem.

Copyright 2010 WSMV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

  • Most Popular StoriesMost Popular StoriesMore>>

  • Charles Manson, leader of murderous cult, dead at 83

    Charles Manson, leader of murderous cult, dead at 83

    Monday, November 20 2017 3:17 AM EST2017-11-20 08:17:04 GMT
    In this 1986 file photo, Charles Manson is seen in court. Authorities say Manson, cult leader and mastermind behind 1969 deaths of actress Sharon Tate and several others, died on Sunday, Nov. 19, 2017. He was 83. (AP Photo, File)In this 1986 file photo, Charles Manson is seen in court. Authorities say Manson, cult leader and mastermind behind 1969 deaths of actress Sharon Tate and several others, died on Sunday, Nov. 19, 2017. He was 83. (AP Photo, File)

    Charles Manson, the hippie cult leader who became the hypnotic-eyed face of evil across America after orchestrating the gruesome murders of pregnant actress Sharon Tate and six others in Los Angeles during the summer of 1969, has died.

    More >

    Charles Manson, the hippie cult leader who became the hypnotic-eyed face of evil across America after orchestrating the gruesome murders of pregnant actress Sharon Tate and six others in Los Angeles during the summer of 1969, has died.

    More >
  • Friends remember 15-year-old found shot, killed inside Kansas City, KS laundromat

    Friends remember 15-year-old found shot, killed inside Kansas City, KS laundromat

    Monday, November 20 2017 6:43 PM EST2017-11-20 23:43:20 GMT

    Police are investigating after a teenager was found dead in a Kansas City, Kansas laundromat on Saturday. 

    More >

    Police are investigating after a teenager was found dead in a Kansas City, Kansas laundromat on Saturday. 

    More >
  • Verruckt still stands one year after Caleb Schwab's death

    Verruckt still stands one year after Caleb Schwab's death

    Monday, November 20 2017 4:55 PM EST2017-11-20 21:55:29 GMT
    Verruckt was the world’s largest waterslide when it opened in 2014 and can be seen from anywhere inside the park. (KCTV5 File Photo)Verruckt was the world’s largest waterslide when it opened in 2014 and can be seen from anywhere inside the park. (KCTV5 File Photo)

    It has been more than a year since 10-year-old was killed on the Verruckt waterslide at Schlitterbahn, but the slide he died on still stands today. 

    More >

    It has been more than a year since 10-year-old was killed on the Verruckt waterslide at Schlitterbahn, but the slide he died on still stands today. 

    More >
Powered by Frankly
KCTV 5 News

Online Public File:
KCTV  KSMO

Powered by WorldNow CNN
All content © 2017, KCTV; Kansas City, MO. (A Meredith Corporation Station) . All Rights Reserved.
For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy, and Terms of Service, and Ad Choices.