Edmunds Offers $1 Million Prize For Toyota Acceleration Problem

If you’re like me, then you still don’t know who to believe about Toyota’s “unintended acceleration” problem. Toyota says it isn’t an electrical issue. In the past they’ve also blamed, of all things, floor mats.

ABC news found a technology professor named David Gilbert who claims he can create a short that causes Toyotas to accelerate, although his results have been proven to be difficult to recreate. Unsurprisingly, Toyota says his results are suspect. Yet, some owners of “fixed” cars are still complaining about unintended acceleration. Toyota has said they’re looking into it.

Edmunds, determined to get to the bottom of all this, has decided to offer $1 million to whoever can figure out exactly what is behind all of this acceleration madness and fix it.

While this isn’t exactly alternative fuels related, it does affect the Toyota Prius and it represents a new way to tackle the problem in a Web 2.0 crowdsourcing kind of way. Besides, maybe somebody out there reading this blog can figure the problem out for the rest of us. Because frankly, I am tired of hearing about it. Seems like Edmunds is too. They claim they have been hearing stories about unintentional acceleration since the Audi debacle some twenty years ago. Audi’s issues with acceleration was before my time, but essentially, 60 Minutes engineered the acceleration using a canister of compressed air.

Today’s cars are not so easily swayed. But there is lots of electronics and programming that goes into every car. As an avid video gamer, I know that even the most elaborate, expensive-to-produce games still have their fair share of bugs. Edmunds is drafting rules for their contest now, but these sorts of open-source contests might actually produce the best solution. The hearings on Washington left most of us just scratching our heads, wondering what happened. With $1 million on the line though, somebody might produce some compelling results.

I have to say that while the evidence seems to have piled up against Toyota, I have to believe that at this point they genuinely want to fix this problem, if not for the public’s peace of mind, at least for their bottom line. Toyota posted an almost 9% drop in car sales last month compared with February 2009, when we were in the midst of the recession. It took Audi a long time to dig out from under their acceleration mess, and Toyota knows it. Until they come up with a solid answer, their sales and reputation are going to continue to take a beating.

So all you computer and engineering wizards should get to work; it could make you a millionaire. Just try not to ruin your car in the process.

Sources: Edmunds | Autoblog via ABC News | Bloomberg

Christopher DeMorro

A writer and gearhead who loves all things automotive, from hybrids to HEMIs, can be found wrenching or writing- or else, he's running, because he's one of those crazy people who gets enjoyment from running insane distances.