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Hold the phone there professor. NASA has concluded that the electronic system was not the blame for Toyota's sudden acceleration problem. This could have a big impact on the class action lawsuit and Toyota recall.
The NASA report found "no electronic flaws … capable of producing the large throttle openings required to create dangerous high-speed, unintended acceleration incidents," the Los Angeles Times reports. NASA conducted a 10-month study in the wake of the Toyota recall.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration released the report, which concluded that the mechanical safety defects, such as sticky accelerator pedals and floor mats are the only known causes for the unintended acceleration incidents. "We enlisted the best and brightest engineers to study Toyota's electronics system, and the verdict is in. There is no electronic-based cause for unintended, high-speed acceleration in Toyotas," said Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.
That leaves only three known causes of unintended acceleration in Toyota vehicles: improperly installed floor mats, sticky pedals, and driver error, CNN reports. "We believe this rigorous scientific analysis by some of America's foremost engineers should further reinforce confidence in the safety of Toyota and Lexus vehicles," said Toyota's chief quality officer Steve St. Angelo.
The NASA findings do not mean that Toyota is in the clear. Toyota is still facing hundreds of lawsuits for millions of dollars over unintended acceleration cases. While the findings of NASA may rule out the electronic system as the culprit for the unintended acceleration cases, alternative liability theories were already asserted by the plaintiffs.