Toyota: What we now know...and we are still not sure!

Written by The Wire

Kelley Blue Book’s James Bell just attended the press conference and demonstration on Toyota’s unintended acceleration issue in San Diego.  Below you’ll find his initial thoughts. 

In a press conference regarding the San Diego-man and his highly chronicled and exposed 'moment of unintended acceleration,' Toyota has correctly highlighted how a feature of their hybrid system acts like a brake override and cuts fuel supply when the brakes are engaged about 50 percent.  That being said, their hybrids should never lose control.

While this is easy to understand, it still not clear is if it is possible that their cars may 'momentarily malfunction' and work inconsistently to design.  Today's conference occurred to raise questions on Mr. Sikes actions last Monday, but does not go far enough as to clear the air on the 'what ifs' that sit like an elephant in the middle of this story.  We appreciate that such an issue is difficult to replicate and test, but we don’t believe this press conference has put the public's mind at ease just yet.

Toyota really needs to tell people that the systems they have in place are fail-safe and they have not done so yet.  Today they were able to say that this driver, in this specific case, acted in a peculiar manner, but they still don’t have an exact answer on the unintended acceleration issue overall.  Until they have a more definitive answer the elephant stays in the room.

All is not hunky dory with Toyota just because dealer foot-traffic has been up in the last week.  Incentives will fuel sales from bargain shoppers, but once that audience is satisfied, it remains to be seen how much buyer interest they will see no matter how much cash they put on the hood. 

-      James Bell, Executive Market Analyst, Kelley Blue Book