March 15th, 2010
04:57 PM ET

Toyota takes aim at California runaway Prius story

Toyota challenged a California driver's story of an out-of-control Prius at a press conference Monday afternoon in California.

A Toyota spokesman, accompanied by engineers from the automaker, detailed preliminary findings of a joint investigation conducted by Toyota and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration into an incident with an alleged out-of-control Prius.

Prius owner Jim Sikes made national headlines last week with claims that his car's accelerator got stuck as he sped up to pass a car while traveling on California's I-8 highway outside of San Diego and that he was unable to stop the car.

"As I was going, I was trying the brakes ... and it just kept speeding up," he said.

Sikes story is at odds with the findings of the investigation according to Toyota and to a draft congressional memo obtained by CNN.

"While a final report is not yet complete, there are strong indications that the driver's account of the event is inconsistent with the findings of the preliminary analysis," Toyota said in a prepared statement.

Read the full CNNMoney.com story

soundoff (31 Responses)
  1. fftower

    Another white washed The Toyota's preliminary findings, should not be a surprised to anybody.
    It is difficult to identify and verified what the driver of the Toyota Prius had experience, defamation of character of the driver is typically what the lawyers for Toyota will used against this individual

    March 15, 2010 at 7:37 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Rex Allen

    What a shame the driver didn't have the brains to turn the key off. What a moron!

    March 16, 2010 at 3:11 am | Report abuse |
  3. Chris

    This in an oportunistic individual trying to cash in on this "Toyota bashing". I have a strange feeling when all of the facts are released, in this particular case only Toyota will be vindicated. Take into account all "modern" cars have black boxes installed so the truth will soon come out.

    March 16, 2010 at 8:23 am | Report abuse |
  4. OrdFlyer

    LOL! How are the investigators going to "disect" a SOFTWARE PROBLEM that is now gone!!!??

    Another Toyota media spin...

    March 16, 2010 at 8:27 am | Report abuse |
  5. hitherm1

    what do you think Toyota is going to say "yes our cars are junk" which they are

    March 16, 2010 at 8:53 am | Report abuse |
  6. Crew

    Historically, sensationalized issues like this attract imitators, attention seekers, and fraud. Who know statistically how many reported Toyota incidents are real and how many are fabricated, but I am suspicious every time I hear of a new incident. This one in particular sounds bogus when you read the details. I'd wager this guy is broke or unemployed or unhappy with his job or spouse, or something similar. If this is real, then my apologies to him, but to avoid such speculation and public scrutiny, maybe don't have a new conference next time...

    March 16, 2010 at 8:59 am | Report abuse |
  7. roger

    What no one seems to realize is that the stretch of road the Prius traveled on has a 6% upgrade for 11 miles. The Prius drove from Lake Jennings Road in Lakeside, California at an elevation of under 1,000 to the summit of I8 in Pine Valley at 4,000 feet before descending down to Kitchen Creek Road which is around 3,000 feet. I drive it frequently and don't see how the Prius could have not been able to be stopped. There is an extra lane added for slow traffic.

    March 16, 2010 at 12:31 pm | Report abuse |
  8. eNGInERD

    True, the black box will have a good recording of what happened. However, it will only be the last 5-30 seconds worth of data. Another problem is that Toyota doesn't use the same black boxes as Ford, Chevy etc. so the information can only be read and interpreted by Toyota.
    I don't know that i would say this is fake though. Apparently he called 911 or the police dept. and they had to help him get the car stopped. Though I do wonder why neither he nor the cop that was giving him instructions over the loudspeaker thought of simply pushing the shifter into Neutral?? Does anyone know if the Prius has some kind of weird shifting configuration?

    March 16, 2010 at 12:40 pm | Report abuse |
  9. tsquare

    1) Being from San Diego, high speed event on the interstates are often covered by the media, so no surprise there.

    2) I saw the interview directly afterwards and heard the 911 tape. This guy was genuinely frightened. Either that or he pulled off a much better performance than that balloon boy's dad.

    So while normally I'd be first in line to say he was a fraud, this time I'd give him the benefit of the doubt. (Especially since, as far as I know, they haven't been able to "re-create" the issue with any of the other cars that were recalled either.)

    March 16, 2010 at 12:53 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Rory

    Rex: The Prius does not have a traditional key. They have what is called a "smart" key, and a push button start. Plus, turning off a car causes loss of power steering and brakes, and at the speeds he was reaching (90+) on a windy road could be catastrophic.

    Crew: If you read the previous articles about this incident, you would know that the person in question has no intention of filing a lawsuit,

    In conclusion, folks, pay attention!

    March 16, 2010 at 12:53 pm | Report abuse |
  11. CGO.SenseiC

    Regarding the comment of Rex Allen... Obviously you don't own a Prius. While driving you CAN'T just "turn it off" (oh... and technically the Prius doesn't have a key TO "turn off") At this point we have nothing more than a "he said/she said" account. Even shifting the gear shift lever into Neutral assumes that the computer-controlled transmission operates properly.

    Now the question that SHOULD get asked... why didn't he plant his left foot on the emergency brake (a mechanical connection to the rear drum brakes). If you leave a few miles of skid marks, maybe we've got something worth investigating. Sure would have helped to have a passenger with a mobile phone that records video.

    I find the claim of Mr. Sikes suspect and Toyota (at least at THIS point) should get treated as "innocent until PROVEN guilty".

    March 16, 2010 at 1:10 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Dana

    What is interesting about this whole Toyota thing is if you read about how this company supposedly works, the first car coming off the line or even before that the defect should have been found.
    Now because they have fooled the public these many years about how quality oriented they were these type of challanges from Toyota had to happen.
    The sad part is the number of people that are in jeopardy because of their fraud.
    From what I am hearing the fix is even worse, the car is slow to accelerate, even lagging to take off.
    Imagine this, we attempt to pull out in front of someone to beat them into traffic, I know no one ever does this, the car lags in taking off and well you can see where this is going.
    Are these problems so great that these cars should be taken off the road and no one is doing anything, especially our government watchdogs...........and its all because of a floor-mat, get real!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    March 16, 2010 at 1:19 pm | Report abuse |
  13. SixMom

    Toyota's media spin? Oh please, this is a spin STARTED by the government, unwilling owner of the broken, defunct GM et al. Trying to drag Toyota down because their own domestic product is so inferior. And the guy's story is absurd because you have to believe it didn't occur to any one involved for all that time to turn off the car or put it in neutral. His story is so obviously staged and conveniently timed. I'm hoping CNNTime will do the right thing and expose this one. Every car maker has glitches and problems, Toyota less than most. Toyota has become a fall guy. Open your eyes. It is corporate/government jealousy and media hype for all those who buy whatever story is thrown at them.

    March 16, 2010 at 1:22 pm | Report abuse |
  14. hiko

    Toyota Prius, you push a button to start and turn off the car. My question is why didn't the driver put the car in neutral? The drivers story doesn't add up.

    March 16, 2010 at 1:26 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Sceptical

    Toyota sounds like the tobacco industry a few years ago.
    So I have to discredit anything they have to say.

    The Guy looks credible but I have seen a lot of credible people do a lot of bad things.

    But for now I am leaning on the side of the driver. There are now several reports of these cars having this type of issue.

    I beleive that Toyota needs to clean up the problem or start handing out full refunds.

    March 16, 2010 at 1:33 pm | Report abuse |
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