The lawsuit alleges that the unintended acceleration episodes are linked to an electronic throttle control system known as the ETCS-i. Plaintiffs say that vehicles equipped with this system should also be equipped with a failsafe measure to disconnect the electronic throttle control, allowing the driver to stop the vehicle safely. The plaintiffs also claim that Toyota Motor Corporation should have provided drivers with the means to "automatically reduce the engine to idle when the brakes are being applied while the throttle is in an open position."
On November 8, the Los Angeles Times reported that more than 1000 Toyota and Lexus owners since 2001 have experienced instances where their cars suddenly accelerated on their own. The article notes that unintended acceleration has caused 15 deaths since 2002—more than caused by any other automaker. Eight investigations were opened into the issue of sudden acceleration, and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) closed six of these investigations without finding any defects. Only 85,000 vehicles were recalled.
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However, the braking system will not always work when sudden acceleration throws the throttle wide open.
The Times cites a 2003 investigation during which all but one out of 37 complaints were dismissed; the investigation was halted due to lack of data indicating a defect trend.