car talk

Unintended Acceleration Costs Toyota $1 Billion

OAKLAND, CA - FEBRUARY 24: A Toyota RAV4 sits on the sales lot at a Toyota dealership on February 24, 2011 in Oakland, California. Toyota announced today that it will recall nearly 2.2 million vehicles that have floor mats that could interfere with their gas pedals. The list of cars to be recalled includes 761,000 2006-10 RAV4, 603,000 2003-09 4Runner models and 17,000 2008-11 Lexus LX 570 models. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
Photo: Justin Sullivan/2011 Getty Images

Toyota announced on Wednesday that it will pay more than $1 billion to settle a class-action lawsuit involving some of its vehicles speeding up with no warning. The settlement, which is the largest in U.S. history involving automobile defects, covers payouts to cover the loss of value for former owners, extended warranties, and the installation of brake-override systems in up to 3.25 million vehicles. Disturbingly, after several recalls and studies, it’s still unclear what caused the problem, which led to several accidents and killed at least four people. Toyota, which denies that the problem was caused by flaws in its electronic throttle-control system, doesn’t admit fault or unlawful conduct in the settlement. “We have not resolved the issue of is there a bug,” says Steve W. Berman, a lawyer for the plaintiff.