Federal safety officials have criticized Toyota for trying to play down mechanical concerns over their "runaway cars.” Though victims and media reports have suggested that computer malfunctions or pedal design flaws are to blame in several incidents in which cars uncontrollably accelerated, Toyota says oversize floor mats are the only cause. The NHTSA called a company statement on the matter “inaccurate and misleading."
"This matter is not closed until Toyota has effectively addressed the defect by providing a suitable vehicle-based solution," said an NHTSA statement in what the LA Times described as an unusual public rebuke. "This is particularly public at a particularly difficult time for Toyota," says an automotive industry consultant. "Toyota was trying to say it has a clean bill of health from NHTSA, when it does not."