The Swift Market Analysis Response Team, or SMART, is being established to investigate claims of unintended acceleration invehicles, Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. Inc. says.
Drawing from 200 technical employees working forin North America, SMART will “attempt to contact customers within 24 hours” of receiving unintended acceleration complaints, then “arrange for a comprehensive on-site vehicle analysis,” Toyota says in a statement.
The SMART members will interface with Toyota’s U.S. dealers.
“There has been a great deal of confusion, speculation and misinformation about unintended acceleration in the past several weeks,” Steve St. Angelo, Toyota’s North American chief quality officer says.
“We believe judgments should be based on reliable evidence, and our SMART business process is there to help provide information upon which such judgments can be made.”
St. Angelo cites Toyota’s recent debunking of unintended acceleration in two Priuses, one in San Diego and another in a New York City suburb, as the type of work SMART will undertake.
“As we did in two recent, much-publicized cases in San Diego, CA, and Harrison, NY, we will continue to work in close partnership with law enforcement agencies and federal regulators with jurisdiction over accidents whenever requested,” St. Angelo says.
Toyota says the size of each SMART team will vary based on the circumstances of each unintended-acceleration report.
The announcement of SMART comes the same day internal Toyota documents provided to the U.S. government reveal the auto maker knew in 2006 of possible floor-mat entrapment by an accelerator in a 2005 Prius, Bloomberg reports.
Toyota didn’t act on the report because it was solitary and the problem could not be reproduced, the wire service says.
Toyota last fall recalled about 5 million vehicles in the U.S. for gas pedals that could ensnare floor mats, following the high-profile deaths of four people in a Lexus ES sedan in California. That vehicle, a dealer loaner, was found to have all-weather floor mats from a Lexus RX cross/utility vehicle. The ES’ gas pedal reportedly was found fused to the floor mat.