Toyota comes out fighting over 'runaway' Prius

Toyota's investigation into the events surrounding the San Diego "runaway Prius" in the US has revealed serious inconsistencies between the driver's account of what occurred and the initial findings of the manufacturer's engineers.

After a two day technical examination of the car in question, Toyota's experts concluded that the Prius's accelerator pedal, push button power switch and gear selector were all working normally. The brakes, though heavily worn, were also considered to be functioning correctly.

Though the final report is not ready, a strongly worded press release makes it clear that Toyota's technicians were unable to recreate the incident, and considered the circumstances described by the driver to be highly unlikely.

"Toyota engineers believe that it would be extremely difficult for the Prius to be driven at a continuous high speed with more than light brake-pedal pressure, and that the assertion that the vehicle could not be stopped with the brakes is fundamentally inconsistent with basic vehicle design and the investigation observations.

"These findings suggest that there should be further examination of Mr. James Sikes account of the events of March 8."

Mr Sikes dialed 911 while driving his 2008 Prius at high speed, claiming the accelerator pedal was stuck and he was unable to slow down. The operator instructed Mr Sikes to shift the car into neutral and turn off the car using the power button.

The Prius was finally brought to a halt when Mr Sikes was intercepted by a California Highway Patrol officer and told to firmly apply the brakes and switch the car off.

Predictably, the story created a media storm in the US, where the company is already under investigation following the global recall of several Toyota model lines due to sticking accelerator pedals.
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