Filed under: Government/Legal , Recalls , Safety , Toyota Toyota is going to be back in the spotlight, as the first of its unintended acceleration lawsuits is headed for trial. This case covers a Los Angeles sushi shop owner, Noriko Uno. According to the what the family told The Detroit News , Uno only put about 10,000 miles on her 2006 Toyota Camry in four years. Uno was apparently afraid of high speeds, avoiding the freeway and taking a route home along LA’s surface streets to avoid them. On August 28, 2009, Uno’s Camry suddenly accelerated to 100 miles per hour, eventually striking a telephone poll and a tree and killing her. The family contends that Uno attempted to step on the brakes and pull the emergency brake, neither of which brought her speed under control, while Toyota maintains that improperly installed floormats and driver error have been behind the majority of the 80 cases expected to be heard in court. In Uno’s case, The Detroit News is expecting the trial to focus on the lack of an override if the gas and brake pedals were pressed at the same time. Brake overrides were installed on Toyota’s European fleet. The Uno family attorney will need to prove to the jury that it wasn’t driver error that killed Noriko Uno. Uno’s case will be a bellwether case, which other state courts will use to predict potential outcomes for similar lawsuits.
Filed under: Motorsports , Chevrolet , Toyota As the 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup season wraps up, teams and drivers start preparing for next year and the big changes the sport has in store. All 2013 Sprint Cup cars will get a new look in an attempt to make the cars better resemble the production cars they mimic. As a part of the new design, NASCAR has also changed some of the rules for the paint scheme and decals that are placed on the cars’ exteriors. To keep the automakers happy, teams will no longer be allowed to clutter the front or rear of the cars with sponsorship stickers and logos. Since these are pretty much the only areas in which to distinguish the different makes any more, keeping them clean will make it easier to tell the models apart. Teams will be allowed to place a small logo on the front of the car and the car number on the front and rear fascias, but for the sake of visibility in night races, no decal can cover the headlights or taillights (insert laugh track). The biggest decal change for 2013 is that drivers’ last names will now be on a decal across the top of the windshield. With Dodge pulling out of NASCAR , that leaves just three automakers still involved with the series: Ford, Toyota and Chevrolet. We’ve already seen the new Fusion and Camry Cup cars, but we’ll have to wait until November 29 to see the new Chevrolet SS racer . The newly designed Sprint Cup cars will run for the first time at the 2013 Daytona 500 in February.
Filed under: Hybrid , Government/Legal , Recalls , Safety , Hatchback , Toyota Automotive News reports Toyota is recalling a total of 2.77 million vehicles worldwide for faulty water pumps and steering system issues. A total of 670,000 of those are 2004-2009 Prius hybrids sold in the US. Those vehicles are headed back to the dealer, where technicians will inspect the intermediate shaft in the steering column for deformed splines and replace the shaft if necessary. Around 350,000 of those same models will also be inspected for a faulty electric water pump. In some cases, the motor driving the pump could stop, causing the electric motor to overheat and stop functioning while being driven. Toyota has not received any reports of accidents as a result of either problem, and says the inspections and replacement work should be completed in around one hour. The recalls also affect 496,000 vehicles in Europe and a further 1.5 million in Japan. All told, the steering shaft recall covers 10 models worldwide, including the Corolla and Wish models manufactured in Japan between 2000 and 2009. Five models are affected by the water pump recall, though we’re still waiting for confirmation from Toyota as to which they are. You can read the full Toyota press release below , covering the US-spec Prius issues, for more information.