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Government says Toyota misleading consumers about gas pedal problems

WASHINGTON (AP) - Toyota Motor Corp. released misleading
information about an investigation into problems with stuck gas
pedals that led to a massive Toyota recall, the government said
Wednesday, stressing the issue is still under review by federal
safety regulators.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said it was
still investigating the case and meeting with Toyota to hear about
the company's plan to redesign the vehicles and fix "this very
dangerous problem."
Toyota recalled 3.8 million vehicles last month over problems
with gas pedals that got stuck on floor mats and told owners to
remove driver's side floor mats and not replace them until the
automaker had determined a fix to the problem.
Toyota said in a statement on Monday that NHTSA had confirmed
"that no defect exists in vehicles in which the driver's floor mat
is compatible with the vehicle and properly secured."
But NHTSA said that was inaccurate and the government was
investigating possible causes of the acceleration problem. Removing
the floor mats was "simply an interim measure" and "does not
correct the underlying defect in the vehicles involving the
potential for entrapment of the accelerator by floor mats, which is
related to accelerator and floor pan design."
"The matter is not closed until Toyota has effectively
addressed the defect by providing a suitable vehicle based
solution," NHTSA said in the statement, which the department said
was issued to correct "inaccurate and misleading information"
from the automaker.
Toyota spokesman John Hanson said "it was never our intention
to mislead or provide inaccurate information. Toyota agrees with
NHTSA's position that the removal of the floor mats is an interim
measure and that further action is required. We continue to discuss
an appropriate vehicle remedy or remedies."
The recall includes 2007-2010 model year Toyota Camry, 2005-2010
Toyota Avalon, 2004-2009 Toyota Prius, 2005-2010 Tacoma, 2007-2010
Toyota Tundra, 2007-2010 Lexus ES350 and 2006-2010 Lexus
IS250/IS350. Toyota's Georgetown, Ky., plant produces Camrys and
Avalons.
The recall, Toyota's largest in the U.S., was prompted by a
high-speed crash in August involving a 2009 Lexus ES350 near San
Diego, Calif. Mark Saylor, a 45-year-old California Highway Patrol
officer, and three members of his family were killed when their
vehicle hit speeds exceeding 120 mph, struck a sport utility
vehicle, launched off an embankment, rolled several times and burst
into flames.
Family members made a frantic 911 call from the Lexus and told a
dispatcher the accelerator was stuck and they couldn't stop the
vehicle.
The high-profile incident led Toyota President Akio Toyoda to
call the fatal crash "extremely regrettable" and offer his
"deepest condolences."
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On the Net:
Toyota Motor Corp.: http://www.toyota.com
Lexus: http://www.lexus.com

(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


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