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Toyota: The 'runaway Prius' uproar
After a Toyota Prius driver found himself careening out of control — thanks to a gas pedal stuck at 90 mph — some say the car company's comeback is in peril, too
Publicity mavens think Toyota can salvage its excellent brand image - if company leaders act fast.
Publicity mavens think Toyota can salvage its excellent brand image - if company leaders act fast.
Corbis/Toyota
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ust hours after Toyota tried to debunk claims that its cars' electronic systems were causing unintended acceleration and other safety issues, an out-of-control Prius stole the spotlight. James Sikes, 61, was driving his 2008 Prius in the San-Diego area when its gas pedal got stuck — and he found himself careening down streets at 94 miles per hour. Forced to call 911, a panicked Sikes was eventually rescued by a resourceful California Highway Policeman. Will this incident — and possibly another in Westchester County, N.Y. — slow Toyota's comeback momentum?

Toyota only has itself to blame: Toyota's defense so far has been to "point fingers," says Laurent Belsie in The Christian Science Monitor — blaming first drivers, then pedal suppliers, for the sticky accelerators. Until Toyota admits it doesn't know what's going on in its cars, people will trust drivers like Sikes over Toyota's engineers.
"Runaway Prius: Toyota's sudden acceleration woes are mounting"

This is a media problem, not a Toyota one: If Sikes had been driving a Ford, this one non-fatal accident would have been a non-story, says Steve Kerch in MarketWatch. But the media is treating "every little Toyota engine burp" like a crisis (and can't resist any OJ-like highway chase). We need to "put the brakes on out-of-whack priorities."
"Runaway Prius? More like runaway media hype"

Toyota is vulnerable when it comes to the Prius: The Camry and Corolla are Toyota's big sellers, says Steve Schmidt in The San Diego Union Tribune, but the eco-wise Prius was its "Wonder Car," designed to "drive sales far into the future." If Americans see the Prius as just as dangerous as other "problem-plagued models," Toyota's future just got cloudier.
"Toyota's Prius problem"

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