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Toyotas show no flaw in electronics so far, U.S. says

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Toyotas show no flaw in electronics so far, U.S. says



WASHINGTON -- The government said Wednesday it had not uncovered any electronic problems in runaway Toyotas as a scientific panel started work on an extensive study to determine what prompts some vehicles to suddenly accelerate.

A National Academy of Sciences panel held its first meeting to review the potential causes of unintended acceleration in vehicles across the entire auto industry. The 12-member panel is expected to report its findings in the fall of 2011.

Congress has criticized the government's auto safety agency for lacking the expertise to understand the role that electronics play in vehicles, an issue at the heart of the mystery of Toyota's recalls.

David Strickland, the head of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, told the panel that his agency's Toyota investigation was ongoing but had not determined any electronic connection to the problems.

Toyota has recalled more than 8.5 million vehicles because of problems with sticking gas pedals and accelerators that can become trapped by floor mats.

NHTSA engineers have been conducting a separate review of Toyota's electronics, working with NASA scientists to try to determine what caused the acceleration issues. The teams hope to complete the study by late August.

NHTSA officials said unintended acceleration in Toyotas may have been involved in the deaths of 93 people over the past decade. It was a slight upgrade in the number of deaths linked to the problem -- in May, the government tied 89 deaths to the issue.

The agency has received about 3,000 complaints of sudden acceleration in Toyotas. Most of the complaints involve vehicles being driven at speeds of 15 m.p.h. or less.

But Strickland said complaints of unwanted acceleration was not solely a Toyota problem and asked the panel to review potential issues with electronic throttle controls and other vehicle electronics.

Toyota paid a record $16.4-million fine for its slow response to an accelerator pedal recall and is facing hundreds of state and federal lawsuits.

Faulty engines: Toyota said today that about 270,000 vehicles sold worldwide, including luxury Lexus sedans, have faulty engines, but the company did not say whether it would recall the automobiles. Toyota said the defective engines could stall while the vehicles were moving.

Of the 270,000 vehicles, some 180,000 were sold overseas and the rest in Japan.



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