According to a Toyota press release, the investigation yielded these preliminary findings:
- A Toyota carpeted floor mat of the correct type for the vehicle was installed but not secured to the retention hooks. It was not found to be interfering or even touching the accelerator pedal.
- The front brakes showed severe wear and damage from overheating. The rear brakes and parking brake were in good condition and functional.
- The accelerator pedal was tested and found to be working normally with no mechanical binding or friction. It should be noted that the Prius is not subject to a recall for sticking accelerator pedals and the Prius component is made by a different supplier than the one recalled.
- The pushbutton power switch worked normally and shut the vehicle off when depressed for 3 seconds as the 911 operator advised Mr. Sikes to do.
The system features a sophisticated self-protection function which cuts engine power if moderate brake pedal pressure is applied and the accelerator pedal is depressed more than approximately 50 percent, in effect providing a form of "brake override."
This function, which is intended to protect the system from overload and possible damage, was found to be functioning normally during the preliminary field examination.
Toyota engineers believe that it would be extremely difficult for the Prius to be driven at a continuous high speed with more than light brake-pedal pressure, and that the assertion that the vehicle could not be stopped with the brakes is fundamentally inconsistent with basic vehicle design and the investigation observations.
These findings suggest that there should be further examination of Mr. Sikes account of the events of March 8.
NHTSA investigators were present during Toyota's examination, and are conducting their own investigation of the vehicle and its performance. Toyota's examination was also observed by a congressional staff member.
Earlier today, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) released a statement on its ongoing investigation. NHTSA stated, "So far, we have not been able to find anything to explain the incident that Mr. Sikes reported."
Read: "More questions raised on Toyota Prius sudden acceleration cases."
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