Toyota Says 'Runaway' Prius Driver May Have Had His Foot on the Gas

PHOTO Brake pads, shoes, and axle from the Toyota Prius James Sikes was driving, clearly showing evidence of burning.

At a Monday afternoon press conference, Toyota representatives said that there were "significant inconsistencies" between what driver James Sikes said happened to his 2008 Prius on a San Diego freeway last week, and what their own inspection and test drive of the vehicle showed.

"There are significant inconsistencies between the event of March 8 and the findings of this investigation," said Toyota Motor Sales spokesman Mike Michels.

According to Toyota, while Sikes' front brakes were worn away, his rear brakes were "fine," and a reading of electronic data from Sikes' car showed that he had applied the brakes and the accelerator alternately at least 250 times.

Michels and the other Toyota representatives gathered before a microphone at San Diego's Qualcomm Stadium stopped short, however, of saying the data indicated Sikes was actually trying to keep the car in motion rather than stop it.

VIDEO: Runaway Prius a Hoax?

Michels said the company was not calling Sikes a liar. "We are not calling him anything," said Michels.

Asked what might motivate Sikes to tell a tale of random acceleration if it were not true, Michels said he didn't want to speculate. "We don't have an explanation," said Michels.

Michels said the data showed that Sikes must have applied repeated light pressure on the brakes rather than the full pressure needed to stop the car. He said that if Sikes had been applying more than moderate pressure on the brakes while the accelerator was pressed or stuck to the floor, the override system in the Prius would have been activated by the brake and shut off the acceleration.

A Toyota representative confirmed to ABC News, however, that the electronic data did not show how hard the brake was being pressed. "The level of brake application is not recorded," said Toyota spokesman Brian Lyons, "only that the brakes were completely released and applied."

Asked at the press conference why the California Highway Patrol officer who helped Sikes bring his car to a stop reported seeing Sikes "standing" on the brakes, Michels said he assumed the officer's account was true.

James Sikes said that the accelerator on his 2008 Prius somehow got stuck during the half-hour March 8 incident, and that he could only stop the car, which reached a top speed of 94 mph, by applying the brakes and his emergency brake.

But attempts by federal investigators and Toyota technicians to recreate the experience during tests last Wednesday and Thursday have raised questions about the driver's version of events. Investigators who test drove the car could not induce sudden acceleration, and said that recreating what Sikes described resulted in the car shutting down, according to a memo drafted by a Congressional observer and provided to ABC News by a source close to the investigation.

"These findings certainly raise new questions surrounding the veracity of the sequence of events that has been reported by Mr. Sikes," said Kurt Bardella, spokesperson for Rep. Darrell Issa, R.-Calif., ranking member of the House Oversight Committee, when contacted about the memo. "Hopefully, Mr. Sikes will be able and willing to help reconcile the gap between what has been said and what the reported empirical data depicts."

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