As many as 200 Toyota engineers have been put on call and will be poised to respond to any customer reporting a problem with a runaway car, the maker says.
Any report of sudden acceleration will be dealt with in less than 24 hours by the new Swift Market Analysis Response Team, or SMART, according to Toyota, with engineers dispatched to examine the vehicle to see what might have caused the problem. It’s the latest step by the Japanese maker, which is struggling to understand why so many owners have reported runaway vehicles, some even after their cars, trucks and crossovers have been reparied in accordance with two Toyota recalls.
“There has been a great deal of confusion, speculation and misinformation about unintended acceleration in the past several weeks,” declared Steve St. Angelo, who was recently named Toyota’s North American quality czar. “We believe judgments should be based on reliable evidence, and our SMART business process is there to help provide information upon which such judgments can be made.”
In a release, St. Angelo pointed to two recent cases, one in San Diego, the other in upstate New York, in which it appears the Toyota vehicles likely weren’t at fault. There is some evidence to suggest the California case was either a hoax or driver error, while the East Coast incident was likely the result of a driver confusing the brake and accelerator pedals.