NEW YORK – Toyota Motor Corp. says it welcomes a commissioned government scientific probe into what is causing reported sudden accelerations of some Toyota vehicles.

“It’s not in our interest not to find out what the issue is,” Jim Lentz, president of Toyota Motor Sales USA Inc., tells reporters here at a National Automobile Dealers Assn./IHS Global Insight conference held in conjunction with the New York International Auto Show.

At a cost of $3 million, the U.S. Department of Transportation is asking the National Academy of Sciences to study a range of sudden-acceleration issues, including driver error.

The government also wants scientists from the National Aeronautics and Space Admin. to examine Toyota’s electronic systems to see if they are at fault, even though Lentz insists they are not.

He rebuts theories that faulty electronic-throttle controls are the main culprit.

“Despite some theories, there is no evidence that the issue is electronic,” Lentz says. “Electronic throttle control is not causing the problem.”

He says 40 million vehicles of all makes and models are equipped with such technology. “We had more instances in the past with cables causing problems than with ETC being a problem. There is no question it’s an asset to the industry.”

Lentz says some sudden-acceleration cases Toyota is dealing with stem from “pedal entrapment.” Toyota is fixing millions of recalled vehicles because their gas pedals potentially can stick.

Vehicles may lurch forward for a variety of reasons, including cold-idle surges and a roughly shifting transmission, he says.

The government lacks a measurement standard for indicating how far and how long a vehicle must travel before it is considered to be dangerously, and suddenly, accelerating, Lentz notes.

sfinlay@wardsauto.com