By Stephen Markley on March 4, 2010
While Toyota may be catching all the flak as its massive recall comes under harsh media and government scrutiny, it is far from being the only automaker linked to unintended acceleration, according to an investigation by National Public Radio.
NPR analyzed 15,000 complaints filed with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration over the past decade, covering cars back to the 1990 model year. It found that other automakers had high rates of complaints related to unintended acceleration, including Honda and Volkswagen.
By comparing the complaints with an automaker’s market share, one can see where anomalies pop up. For instance, beginning in 2002 Toyota had 10% of the U.S. auto market but accounted for 19% of acceleration complaints.
Volkswagens manufactured in 2008 showed a similar high rate of complaints, even though VW has had a brake override system in its cars since the 2002 model year. Honda saw a spike in the rate of complaints for the 2001-2003 model years, but these dropped in 2004 and have since remained low.
Toyota’s problems have unfolded very publically and dramatically, but Clarence Ditlow, executive director of the Center for Auto Safety, points out that neither regulators nor manufacturers do the kind of analysis that NPR undertook —comparing complaint levels with sales figures to render an idea of how big the issue might be for a particular automaker.