Report offers no new evidence on Toyota unintended acceleration

(May 24, 2011) SANTA MONICA, Calif. — The Toyota North American Quality Advisory Panel led by former U.S. Secretary of Transportation Rodney E. Slater presented a report on May 23 that summarizes results of the panel's review at the mid-point of its two-year term of service.

"The report makes a pretty good case that Toyota let quality lapse. Also, it confirms our view that Toyota's culture — one that works well in times of stability — left it uniquely vulnerable to a fast-moving crisis, such as the safety issues that enveloped the company last year," stated CEO Jeremy Anwyl. "But anyone hoping that this report would help settle the debate around causes of unintended acceleration will be disappointed."

While the document provides worthwhile recommendations for Toyota going forward, it did not shed new light on the causes of unintended acceleration that occurred in Toyota models.

"As we have noted before, in the absence of a definitive resolution consumers are left to speculate," said Anwyl, who wrote in an op-ed for The Washington Post last year that "it is impossible to rule out any possibilities: electrical, mechanical, design or driver-related." will announce at its Safety Conference in Washington, DC, on May 25 that there is no winner of's Unintended Acceleration Contest launched early in 2010 after the safety of Toyota vehicles came into question.

"Evidence has been piling up that unintended acceleration is not caused by a vehicle defect, and our contest result seems to be the final piece. Even with a million dollars motivating the best and brightest thinkers to study the issue, no one could demonstrate any novel and plausible cause for unintended acceleration," stated Anwyl.

"This leaves the blame at the foot of the driver, literally. And this will be a big take-away of Edmunds' Safety Conference tomorrow: culturally, we have an aversion to blaming the driver, but to improve the safety on our roads we need to recognize the role of the driver and engage the driver more fully."

Click here for more on Edmunds' Safety Conference.