March 1st, 2012
11:02 PM ET

Video: Translated Toyota memo shows electronic acceleration concern

Washington (CNN) - Toyota engineers found an electronic software problem that caused "sudden unintended acceleration" in a test vehicle during pre-production trials, according to a company engineering document obtained by and translated for CNN.

The 2006 document, marked "confidential," recounted the results of an adaptive cruise-control software test in a model internally designated the 250L, a vehicle later sold as the Lexus 460 in Japan and Europe. The document says a "fail-safe overhaul" would be needed for another model in production, internally designated the 180L, which the company says was later sold as a Toyota Tundra.

Toyota insists that the document shows no such thing, and it continues to deny that any sudden unintended acceleration in any of its vehicles was caused by electronic systems. But three translations of the report, including two commissioned by CNN after Toyota's objections, found that engineers raised concerns that the adaptive cruise control system would start the car moving forward on its own.

Read the original document and English translations here

"The cruise control activates by itself at full throttle when the accelerator pedal position sensor is abnormal," states the document, written in Japanese, translated into English.


soundoff (9 Responses)
  1. Mark J Smith

    For those that do not understand computer systems, the type of fault occuring in the Toyota cars is difficult to understand. However, having dealt with these systems for many years and seen numerous serious computer errors in every field, this type of failure is easy to duplicate and very easy to understand. And very easy to hide. Toyota provided the tools to read the on-board computers, how difficult do you think it would be to have those tools provide what ever results you want? I have dealt with Japanese auto companies and they have no problem with stealing ideas or covering up problems. And the Japanese government works with the auto companies. Toyota has very skillfully covered up the true causes of the Unintended Accelerations but finally some proof of the true causes is coming to light

    March 6, 2012 at 9:43 am |
  2. Brenda Ritter

    Thank you for airing this story Anderson. I was a victim of my Lexus' unintended acceleration in 2009 and although my 2006 Lexus was totalled, I survived along with my 4 grandchildren with minor injuries. My husband is a registered professional automotive engineer and he along with my 4 engineer sons, immediately started investigating what happened to the car. This happened about a month before the terrible California accident, but we discovered that hundreds of others had experienced the same problem with their Toyota products. We notified and filed a report with NHTSA and called our Lexus dealer who told us that they had already had 3 lawsuits and did we want to purchase a new car. My husband who has worked in research his entire career, came to the conclusion along with our sons that it was a computer glitch. We were not interested in suing Toyota but I was very concerned that not knowing of this problem, people were continuing to be injured or killed. I am a retired investigative journalist and contacted the media and told them they needed to investigate this Toyota problem instead of just reading or printing the Toyota news releases. We were shocked when the NASA engineers were hired to investigate this problem. Next time NASA has an accident, we suggest they hire the automotive engineers in Detroit to investigate. We believed that Toyota had silently solved the problem, they would never acknowledge, until we viewed your story. The same day your story aired, we were talking about buying a new Lexus because we liked the car so much. Guess we'll put that on hold.

    March 5, 2012 at 5:33 pm |
  3. Ken R.

    Opinion is not news. I'm very disappointed in CNN and Anderson Cooper's presentaion of the information. Let the court systems and NHTSA handle this. There is no positive redeeming social value in this story. It only serves to create uneeded panic in consumers and feed hungry lawyers. I hope my feelings are clear enough and not lost in translation the way the Toyota document was.

    March 3, 2012 at 10:30 am |
  4. Claudia Playne

    Don't give up Anderson. Toyota is hiding something and I am tired of their denials that go back years and years. The truth needs to be brought out in the open, even if Toyota do have endless pockets and people in their pockets, laws exist for a reason and not turning over evidence is a crime.

    March 2, 2012 at 9:16 pm |
  5. Eric

    I had some respect for Anderson Cooper's integrity but now I have my doubts after this article. It is very similar to the Jerry Springer type create hype and to make a name for yourself as the reporting practiced by Brian Williams at ABC.
    Brian inaccurately reported the previous problem and infact was later shown to have intentional rigged an acceleration problem and mis-represented that rigging. No one can measure the damage that poor investigative reporting does to a company but for sure we can say that Toyota spent $ 100 of millions defending the alligations and lost upward of billions of sales. On top of that though no direc Toyota workers were released from their jobs their most likely 100's if not 1,000's contractor and supplier jobs added to the unemploment market. Is this really the path that CNN wants to take?

    March 2, 2012 at 12:39 pm |
  6. glenn

    Funny, last year I brought mt 2007 Tundra in for the brake recall. They were supposed to replace just hardware. When I picked my truck up it the acceleration felt different. I called the dealer and asked why and they informed me that they had to "flash" my bios on my control module. I asked them to put it back the way it was and they told me that they cant. They said theis software update was required by Toyota. Do you think this is suspicious? I still have the truck, maybe I can get the bios revision number. I searched a few forums to see if anyone else had this happen but came up empty. Maybe they are updating all the software and keeping it low key

    March 2, 2012 at 9:22 am |
  7. David Schmidig

    I have a 2006 Toyota Highlander Hybrid Limited and when I am driving and I put on my brakes and if I go over uneven road surface the car continues to move forward. Its like the brakes disengage for a time. I have told Toyota at the dealership and they have no comment. They told me that this is not possible. They have done all the current recalls and it still does this. I can get it to duplicate this situation. Would like to show someone how it does this maybe keep people from getting hurt.

    thanks David Schmidig

    March 2, 2012 at 1:37 am |
    • Eric

      I have a similar condtion in my Prius, I had it reflashed during the recall for fear it was an issue, nothing changed though. Later I learned it is a side effect from traction control and is common across many non Toyota cars also. Though it is unerving for a split second, it is always only a frraction of a second. I am not a huge fan of traction control anyway so for me the overall TRC benefit does not out weigh the split secound feeling on uneven surface, but for my wife who is the main driver of the car it seems to.

      March 4, 2012 at 5:31 pm |
  8. Pat Center

    Great job CNN – Never let the truth stand in the way of a "Good Story!" The NHTSA and NASA have cleared Toyota – there are a lot of hard working Americans that are employed by Toyota across the country and this reckless story does all of them a disservice... Toyota's are the safest cars on the road – Let it go!!!

    March 1, 2012 at 11:55 pm |