Skip to comments.Toyota hybrid runaway story a hoax?
Posted on 03/12/2010 1:04:44 PM PST by paltz
Michael Fumento writes at Forbes.com that the out of control Toyota Prius story is likely a hoax. Prius owner James Sikes may have pulled off a scam complete with a 911 call to cops when he claimed his car's gas pedal was stuck, and he was accelerating faster than 90 miles an hour.
It got far more dramatic, though. The California Highway Patrol responded and "To get the runaway car to stop, they actually had to put their patrol car in front of the Prius and step on the brakes." During over 20 harrowing minutes, according to NBC's report, Sikes "did everything he could to try to slow down that Prius." Others said, "Radio traffic indicated the driver was unable to turn off the engine or shift the car into neutral."
In fact, almost none of this was true. Virtually every aspect of Sikes's story as told to reporters makes no sense. His claim that he'd tried to yank up the accelerator could be falsified, with his help, in half a minute. And now we even have an explanation for why he'd pull such a stunt, beyond the all-American desire to have 15 minutes of fame (recall the "Balloon Boy Hoax" from October) and the aching need to be perceived as a victim.
(Excerpt) Read more at washingtontimes.com ...
After they are done with discrediting Toyota, it will be Hondas’ turn.
Chili Finger Lady
He had an aching need to explain away his failure to make payments on his Prius.
He never thinks of turning off the ignition to shut down all systems.
None of what he claimed made any sense and before I ever took to the roads (at age 14, some 52 years ago) I knew about shifting into neutral, pushing on the clutch pedal or shutting off the motor.
The smell of the UAW, big stockholders of General Motors courtesy of Obama, pervades this story. Non Union Toyota have their own Pearl Harbor on their hands.
While I absolutely believe this is a hoax, I can tell you that you can’t necessarily just “turn off” a Prius.
I had one as a rental car, and the first time I drove it, I couldn’t be sure how to get it into the equivalent of “PARK”, how to turn it off, and how/when to remove the ‘key’.
BUT if you have driven one for a while, you know what to do.
Toyota has become the primo lottery box and the lawyers and opportunist car owners are all pushing forward to get their piece. Many will make up stuff and Toyota will probably pay out settlements just to get it to stop, but it won’t. The government is heavily involved in this fleecing of the Japs because it is how a government company, GMchrysler for instance, competes in the market.
The fact is, the Prius has always had a brake override. It needs it to prevent overloading the regen braking system. The Prius has to return the throttle to idle when you step on the brake. So that system would also have to have failed for this guy’s story to be true.
Many people who drive a Prius are unaware that it already has a brake override system.
Yes, that would require a throttle cable, which the Prius does not have.
AUDI went through all of this a few years back. Most of those were debunked eventually as hoaxes too, but not before 60 Minutes and the rest of the ever compliant media helped the plaintiffs bar whip up a mad frenzy.
Mt husband had a pick up converted to run on propane a few years ago. It ran away with him on a crowded freeway where he couldn’t just put it in neutral and come to a slow stop. He finally got over in the right lane where he was able to exit and get it stopped but he was one scared driver for a few minutes. He said bye bye to a bad idea.
I had a car that could not only move its own gas pedal but could start its self and drive away in the middle of the night. I know it did because I had the keys in my pocket and when it was found no one was in it!
What are the chances of being on an empty California highway where you can speed for 20 minutes. Where are the witnesses besides the police officer.
I don’t believe during our vacation in California we were able to drive the speed limit for 2o minutes without having to slow down.
I got very suspicious when I heard him interviewed the next morning on KABC in Los Angeles (Peter Tilden show). Well into the interview, he said (and I’m paraphrasing):
“I’m heading over to El Cajon Toyota at 9 o’clock to talk to the management there...”
If he wasn’t seeking publicity, why the specifics about where he would be and when. My instant reaction was: he wants the press there.
Some Fords were notorious for the throttle linkage or carb valves getting “sticky”. I had one. The linkage was supposed to be lubed with each oil change but since I was poor and did oil changes myself it was never done. Occasionally the throttle would stick and I had to either “goose” the pedal, which is a very counter intuitive move, or pull it back with my hand.
I guess that experience along with several spectacular crashes on go-karts and minibikes due to stuck open throttles, taught me how to handle an unruly gas pedal.
I have drove so many junkers that I am always ready for the gas pedal to stick, the breaks to fail, the tires to blow out, or even the occasional exploding engine.
(I wonder if our comments had any impact?)
The British Army took delivery of fifty Toyota Prius early this month. The cars will be used by the White Fleet, which is the Armys non-combat corps of administrators and officers. Sources say that they did test the Prius with a 30mm canon on it, but that the recoil crumpled the cars roof, so the plan to field them as ultra-efficient combat vehicles was scrapped. ;o)
I have had a couple of clunker cars in my life, and every one of them had a gas pedal that sometimes had to be pulled by hand back to idle! Purely a mechanical thing, like you I didn’t pay a lot of attention to the linkage and its lubrication.
What these people are describing is different it seems to me. When the pedal would stick the car would not slow down when you let off the accelerator. But it would not speed up and try to run faster. I would have problems with unintended continuing at the same speed, but never with unintended acceleration!
This is really a tough one. Only a test pilot or maybe a fighter pilot would tend to have the skills to override the pure panic of sudden, unexpected, rapid acceleration in traffic! And maybe a race car driver.
Imagine the confusion of having it happen and not being able to figure out what was going on. I suppose it’s possible some electronic glitch could cause something untoward with the speed, but off hand I can’t think of anything.
My money would be on the floor mat, that happened to me in 1990 in my stick shift Honda Accord. Took me a bit to figure out what had happened and then a second or two to reach down and get the mat out of the way.
I’m still amazed that a Pious (yes, purposely misspelled) could do 90.
And I still love my Toyota!!!
It was without a doubt a hoax. I’ve never seen a Pius do 90mph.