Illustration for article titled The Mechanics of ABC News Unintended Toyota Acceleration Hoax

Toyota today slammed the mechanics behind Brian Ross' ABC News report on unintended acceleration, showing how they were manipulated by recreating the same fault on a Chevy, Mercedes, Honda and Ford. Here's how the hoax occurred.


The Toyota press conference held this morning and broadcast to anyone who would listen was a sign beige is fighting back smartly by pivoting media focus to the most ridiculous report — that done by ABC News. Toyota walked reporters through each step of Brian Ross's now-famous "Toyota Death Ride," which they're calling "a careful and deliberate manipulation."

ABC News' report relied on a study by Prof. David Gilbert of Southern Illinois University-Carbondale who not only manipulated the sensors within a Camry to draw his conclusions and create the famous video — he was paid by a trial lawyer group with pending litigation against Toyota to do so. The Toyota response used a Professor from Stanford — i.e. a university you've heard of — who pointed out the electronic throttle was modified in a way unlikely to ever occur in the real world. And while he — or at least the Stanford team that pays his salary — was paid for by Toyota, he was at least up-front about it.

To see how just how unlikely the situation is, click through the gallery above to see how many simultaneous steps they're saying Dr, Gilbert had to undertake in order to duplicate the Camry-of-death. Specifically, how Gilbert cut three wires within the electronic throttle control system, then connected two of the wires to each other in a specific pattern and with a specific resistor to create a link between two final wires with a switch in between so he can control it.

"As engineers, we can rewire anything, but that's not realistic. Automakers shouldn't be forced to design for events that won't happen in nature," said Center for Automotive Research at Stanford.


To prove the pont they performed the exact same steps on a Chevy Malibu, Mercedes E Class, Honda Accord, Subaru Outback BMW 325i, Ford Fusion, and Chrysler Crossfire and were able to demonstrate the same results as Brian Ross experienced in his report. Unintended acceleration without an error code. You can see it with the BMW below.

They also took time to point what has already been made clear, specifically how Brian Ross faked the video of the tachometer revving to 6200 RPM in park to make it seem like the car was accelerating out of control, compared to just 3000 RPM in the revised ABC video.


And they didn't stop there. Toyota made mention of Sean Kane and his relationship to trial lawyers pursuing litigation against the company:

Toyota Statement:As revealed in their testimony before Congress, Professor Gilbert's Preliminary Report was commissioned by Sean Kane, a paid advocate for trial lawyers involved in litigation against Toyota and other automakers. Mr. Kane also appeared on the ABC News broadcast in support of the claim that Professor Gilbert's demonstration revealed a flaw in the electronic throttle control system that could lead to "runaway" Toyota and Lexus vehicles. The relationship between Mr. Kane, Professor Gilbert and the trial lawyers who support Mr. Kane's advocacy was not revealed by ABC News during the newscast, nor was Toyota offered an opportunity to view the demonstration or given time to respond.


If ABC News asked about this, and there's no evidence they did, it should have been included in the report. Bias is fine as long its acknowledged bias. For instance, the representatives of Stanford mentioned Toyota had contributed support to their research in the past, though denied there was any link or that they provided funding for the university's analysis.

Between the video, examples, reports and slideshows it's a fairly thorough smackdown of ABC News. Of course, the big issue it doesn't address is the possibility of a software issue, which other individuals have raised. It seems like Toyota is going out of their way to pile on what they think is obviously misleading reporting while not holding a similar light on those other claims.


They also don't address the issue of their cars being so soulless and boring no one knows how to drive anymore.

Share This Story

Get our newsletter