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Toyota Sends Engineers To Check N.Y. Prius

Tue, 03/16/2010 - 10:45am
Dan Strumpf, AP Auto Writer

NEW YORK (AP) -- Toyota engineers on Wednesday will examine a Prius in suburban New York that crashed into a stone wall after its driver claims the hybrid sped up on its own.

Toyota Motor Corp. spokesman Wade Hoyt said the automaker is sending three to four engineers from its U.S. sales headquarters in Torrance, Calif., and from a regional office in West Caldwell, N.J., to check out the 2005 Prius, which is being stored with local police following last week's accident.

The automaker will turn over its findings to the Harrison, N.Y., police, but will not hold a press conference or share the results with the media, he said.

"Because of privacy concerns and legal considerations, we seldom announce the results of these tests," Hoyt said. "The police chief can do what he wants with them."

On Monday, Toyota disclosed the findings of a probe into a runaway Prius on a California freeway. The automaker dismissed the account given by the driver, James Sikes, saying its own tests found the car's gas pedal and backup safety system were working just fine.

Hoyt said he was unsure how long the New York investigation would take. The Toyota team will be joined by investigators from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Toyota has recalled more than 8 million vehicles worldwide, including about 6 million in the U.S. to address gas pedal problems. The driver in last week's Prius accident has said she did not know whether the gas pedal got stuck.

The Harrison police have requested Toyota's help in decoding the vehicle's electronic data recorder, and Toyota said it will conduct a reading of the recorder. An event data recorder, similar to an airplane black box, records various information about a vehicle in the final seconds before a crash and can be useful in accident reconstruction.

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