The day after Toyota insisted problems with random acceleration in its cars had been fixed by a recall that will replace gas-pedal assemblies, Apple computers co-founder Steve Wozniak told ABC's Brian Ross that he believes the problem with his Toyota was not gas pedals, but software. Wozniak also said he been trying to get the attention of Toyota and the government's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration for several months without success.
Wozniak said when he uses cruise control in his 2010 Prius, which is not on Toyota's recall list of models that may have "sticky" gas pedals, the car sometimes goes into an "unlimited speed up."
"I tap the cruise control lever to increase the speed and it basically goes into an unlimited speed up," said Wozniak. "If I hit the brake it disables my cruise control and it goes back to normal."
Wozniak said that the random acceleration on his Prius can be brought under control by brake and because he has a radar system that regulates his distance from other cars and forces the car to slow down if it gets too close to another vehicle.
"But since my foot never touches the pedal," said Wozniak, "[the problem] cannot be a sticky accelerator pedal."
"There might be some bad software in there," said Wozniak. He suggested that the problem with his own software might be related to the random acceleration issues in other Toyotas.
He also said he had been trying to get through to Toyota and NHTSA for at least two months without success. He said he got a "runaround" from NHTSA, and that he couldn't get past lower level people at Toyota.
"They don't see that this might be something important," said Wozniak.
As first reported by CNET, Wozniak told a crowd at an event in San Francisco on Monday afternoon that he had a "very scary" problem with his Prius and that he'd been trying to inform Toyota and NHTSA for several months that the issue was software.
"Toyota has this accelerator problem that we've all heard about," said Wozniak. "I have many models of Prius that got recalled, but I have a new model that didn't get recalled. This new model has an accelerator that goes wild but only certain conditions of cruise control. And I can repeat it over and over and over again – safely."
Said Wozniak, "This is software. It's not a bad accelerator pedal. It's very scary, but luckily for me I can hit the brakes."
Toyota Insists Electronics Aren't Causing Acceleration Problems
When ABC News asked Toyota for a response to Wozniak's claim, a spokesperson for the company insisted that random acceleration is not caused by electronics.
"After many years of exhaustive testing---by us and other outside agencies," said the spokesperson via e-mail, "we have found no evidence of a problem with our electronic throttle control system that could have caused unwanted acceleration."
The spokesperson also said that Toyota is responsive to customer complaints. "We are in the business of investigating complaints, assessing problem, and finding remedies. That's what we do."
"It is in our best interest... as well as the best interest of our owners... to investigate any and all claims of unwanted acceleration."