Unable To Replicate
Last week, a runaway Prius made the headlines following a dramatic rescue by a California Highway Patrol officer who talked the driver into slowing the vehicle to the side of the road.
This week the focus is on the driver.
The Transportation Department immediately took control of the 2008 Toyota Prius, trying to replicate the conditions experienced by owner, James Sikes, 61. Sikes had told the media that his car sped up to more than 90 mph on Interstate 8 near San Diego last Monday.
Engineers evaluating the Prius say they’ve not been able to explain the incident. When engineers from Toyota and the federal government tested Sikes’ car, the Prius’ gas engine shut down.
The incident is explained in a report from U.S, Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Vista), a Republican from the San Diego area who accompanied investigators. About Sikes’ story, he says the failure to duplicate the results, “doesn’t mean it didn’t happen, but let’s understand, it doesn’t mean it did happen,” he said on the CBS Early Show.
This Prius is equipped with a system that allows the vehicle to slow down by closing the throttle when the brakes are applied, similar to a brake override feature. It is a feature that protects the hybrid system from damage.
Investigators noted that the brake pads in Sikes’ Prius were completely gone, the rotors were damaged, and the outboard pads were down to as little as two millimeters.
Sikes told reporters last Monday he was driving on Interstate 8 when he couldn’t get control over his car. He called 911 and a California Highway Patrol officer gave him instructions via a bullhorn to apply both his emergency brake along with the brake pedal at the same time. That helped him bring the car down to 50 mph and eventually to a stop, reports the Los Angeles Times.
Toyota plans a news conference at 3:30 EST, Monday to share preliminary findings about Sikes’ account of events. His lawyer says Sikes has no reason to make up a story and he is not filing a lawsuit.
The federal agency admits it may never know what happened to this Prius.
56 fatalities are blamed on unintended acceleration involving Toyota vehicles made as far back as 2004. #