SANTA MONICA, Calif. — Edmunds.com is prepared to give $1 million to whoever can crack the mystery of unintended acceleration in recalled Toyota vehicles.
The site announced preliminary plans this week to reward researchers who can accurately address the situation that's confounded automaker executives and government experts alike. Officials are challenging participants to demonstrate in a controlled environment a repeatable factor that will cause an unmodified vehicle to accelerate suddenly and unexpectedly.
Edmunds.com officials noted that they've seen online consumer discussion on their site about unintended acceleration involving Toyota units as far back as November 2006. They highlighted an entry titled "Toyota Sienna Uncontrolled Acceleration" that was posted on their Town Hall section more than three year ago.
"We have heard compelling testimony from consumers. Many incidents are not fully addressed by recalls," contended Jeremy Anwyl, chief executive officer of Edmunds.com.
"NHTSA is responding to the challenge with more of what they have already done: additional investigations. Isn't it time to try a different approach? We at Edmunds.com think so," Anwyl continued.
That different approach is still being finalized by Edmunds.com. Officials indicated that complete rules are being drafted for winning the prize. They hope to attract the best automotive thinkers in the world to apply themselves to determine what is really causing sudden unexpected acceleration in vehicles.
Edmunds.com is putting together this program not just because of issues involving Toyota vehicles.
"As Edmunds.com has previously disclosed, every car company has received complaints from consumers relating to vehicles that suffered unintended acceleration," site officials explained.
"This problem has been festering for more than 20 years when Audi fell prey to notorious headlines about the subject," they continued.
Anwyl believes this initiative not only could be financially rewarding to the researcher who tackles the problem, but also enhance safety for all consumers.
"Open source created a forum for great programmers to contribute in building great software. Let's see if this kind of ‘crowd sourcing' can work in the pressing area of automotive safety," Anwyl proposed.
"Consumers need to feel confident that the vehicles that they are driving are as safe as possible," he went on to say. "We look forward to seeing the safety contributions that this effort generates."