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Congressmen question Toyota's defects testing

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Congressmen question Toyota's defects testing

Stupak, Waxman say firm hasn't proven its confidence in safety



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WASHINGTON – U.S. Reps. Bart Stupak and Henry Waxman told Toyota today that it had failed to produce any evidence it has tested its electronic engine controls as a possible source of sudden acceleration defects.

In a letter to the Japanese automaker, the lawmakers said Toyota did not appear to have any basis for claiming it was “confident” of no defects in its electronic throttle controls or other systems.

“It may be that Toyota has done ‘extensive’ and ‘very rigorous’ testing of its vehicles for electronic defects,” said Stupak, chairman of the House Energy and Commerce subcommittee for investigations, and Waxman, chairman of the full committee.

“But if so, the results of this testing should have been provided to the committee. Despite our repeated requests, the record before the committee is most notable for what is missing: the absence of documents showing that Toyota has systematically investigated the possibility of electronic defects that could cause sudden unintended acceleration.”

Stupak, D-Menominee, and Waxman, D-Calif., asked Toyota to make any executives involved in such testing available for interviews next week.

They also pressed Toyota to answer lingering questions about the “black box” data recorders in its vehicles and how it decided which models to upgrade with brake-override systems.

The letter comes a day after the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said it had received more than 60 complaints from Toyota owners who say their vehicles experienced sudden acceleration after repairs under the automaker's two recalls for the problem.

NHTSA warned Thursday it could order Toyota to come up with a new fix if it finds that Toyota's recalls did not fully address problems of sudden acceleration.

“We are determined to get to the bottom of this,” said NHTSA administrator David Strickland.

NHTSA said it would contact every owner who makes such a complaint to gather more information. The agency has launched three probes into whether Toyota moved too slowly to address complaints sudden acceleration and whether the automaker's electronics were to blame.

Toyota officials have said they would also aggressively investigate any reports of post-recall sudden acceleration.

Yet they have also maintained that two recalls covering 5.6 million vehicles in the United States fixed all known causes of sudden acceleration in Toyota and Lexus models, and that Toyota's engine electronics were designed with "absolute reliability."

Toyota said late Thursday that it was evaluating the complaints.

"However, the evaluations have found no evidence of a failure of the vehicle electronic throttle control system, the recent recall remedies or the brake override feature," the company said.

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