Consultants say interference in electronics may cause acceleration issues in Toyotas

Toyota may not be totally to blame for missing the electronic causes of sudden acceleration in their vehicles, say three British engineering consultants. The consultants, who are to meet with U.S. investigators say that evidence of the problems is difficult to detect, because the electronic throttle-control system employed by Toyota contains a number of parts that are susceptible to electromagnetic interference, or EMI.

“Thirty years’ empirical evidence overwhelmingly points to [sudden acceleration] being caused by electronic system faults undetectable by inspection or testing,” said Keith Armstrong, a engineering consultant from the United Kingdom who appeared with two other engineers at a Washington news conference organized here by consumer advocates.

Tests employed by automakers do not cover most real-life EMI, and according to one ToMoCo spokeswoman, no automaker has a system to detect it, much less prevent it. She also said that Toyota has sold over 40 million vehicles with their ETCS and is very confidant that the system has not been the cause of unintended acceleration problems. Engineers from Toyota have done comprehensive tests under both normal and abnormal conditions that include electromagnetic interference, and executives told congress that their tests over the years have repeatedly shown no evidence of such interference.

Engineer Armstrong says that the brake-override systems employed by Toyota fail to address the real problem, saying that a true safety override must be in the form of a totally independent system.

– By: Stephen Calogera

Source: Automotive News (Subscription Required)