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Toyota Disputes Account of San Diego Prius Driver

March 16, 2010

SAN DIEGO, CA - Toyota said Monday, March 15, that its preliminary test results on a 2008 Prius, which was allegedly involved in an unintended-acceleration episode last week near San Diego, were inconsistent with the driver's account. 

Toyota engineers on March 10 and 11 performed a technical field examination and testing on the car. "While a final report is not yet complete, there are strong indications that the driver's account of the event is inconsistent with the findings of the preliminary analysis," the company said. 

Toyota said tests indicated that the driver repeatedly pressed the brake pedal and accelerator -- a conclusion that's at odds with the driver's account that he applied heavy pressure on the brakes while the car accelerated out of control on its own. 

"We believe the vehicle was being driven with the front brakes lightly applied," Bob Waltz, Toyota's U.S. vice president for product quality and service support, said on Monday, according to a Wall Street Journal account of the press conference in San Diego. 

James Sikes called 911 on March 8 while driving on a California freeway to report his Prius had sped up to more than 90 mph on its own and couldn't be stopped. Eventually, a California Highway Patrol officer pulled alongside Sikes' car and advised him to apply both the brakes and the emergency brake and to turn off the engine. Eventually, the car came to a stop. Sikes was uninjured. 

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