Toyota Slams Sudden Acceleration Research of Auto Expert as Unrealistic

"I will examine their expanded results and conclusions along with my own," said Gilbert. "I will visit Exponent next week to get a first-hand look at the information presented today and discuss their methods and procedures."

Gilbert said he hoped to complete his review "within the next few weeks."

Auto safety expert Sean Kane, whose private safety firm hired Gilbert to test Toyotas, said the Toyota demonstration misstated what Gilbert had done, that it was never meant to show a real world condition, and that what Gilbert had done was simple rather than difficult.

"We heard a lot about reengineering, rewiring, reconfiguring and this was nothing of the sort," said Kane. "It was simply a connection of the resistance to the circuit."

"The significant reengineering they describe is really nothing more than very basic test methods that are used in labs regularly by people like Dr. Gilbert and other folks that do automotive technology work," said Kane.

Kane said that Gilbert was not trying to suggest a specific scenario for short circuits, merely that it was possible to create one, and that some means would not require abrasion or corrosion to the wires. "We don't know why, how that can happen in the real world," said Kane. "It is possible that it can happen and the reality is that Toyota's system will not pick that up as an error code."

"The study was simply can we look at the Toyota system and see if the system can miss some important faults," said Kane. "And the answer is yes, it can miss some important faults."

Professor's Demonstration

After ABC News aired a report on Gilbert's findings, on February 22, Gilbert was called to testify before the House Commerce Committee the next day.

At that hearing, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood told Congress Tuesday that his agency would follow up on the alleged electronic problem discovered by Gilbert.

"You have my 100 percent commitment," said LaHood when asked by Rep. Bart Stupak if he would be following up with Gilbert.

"We are going to get into the weeds on the electronics," said LaHood. "We are going to look at the Southern Illinois University data."

Professor Gilbert testified that a flaw in the design of Toyota's electronic acceleration system prevents the car's onboard computer from detecting and stopping certain short circuits that can trigger sudden speed surges.

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