We have another twist in the Toyota accelerator scandal to report. After the company bragged about its success in avoiding a federal probe into reports of “runaway” vehicles back in August, yet another indication of foreknowledge into the extent of the problem was unveiled by the Associated Press today. The AP got a hold of an internal e-mail from VP of Pubic Affairs for Toyota, Irv Miller, who in January pressed his superiors to come forth with information regarding the safety of Toyota vehicles. Miller claimed that Toyota’s evasive maneuvers in the matter had the potential to harm its customers. Miller has yet to comment on the leak of this internal correspondence.
Toyota’s accelerator problems began to gain mainstream attention in August 2009, when a police officer and his family members lost their lives in a runaway Lexus automobile which the family was borrowing from their Lexus dealer. The vehicle accelerated to over 100 mph before entering an intersection and colliding with another vehicle. The car careened off an embankment and caught fire. The driver of the car contacted 911 while trying to stop the vehicle. Toyota came to the conclusion that the floor mats in the automobile had somehow become loose, causing the accelerator pedal to stick.
Federal investigators began to question the floor mat hypothesis after complaints of runaway Toyotas continued to flood in.
The federal government is looking into fining Toyota over $16 million for its negligence in notifying American consumers of the potential dangers of some of its vehicles, including the Toyota Prius.