AP: Seven insurance companies sue Toyota over unintended acceleration-related claims

Can’t say we didn’t see this one coming… According to the Associated Press, seven insurance companies* are suing Toyota in California court for damages in excess of $230,000. We suspect that figure could rise, as it’s derived from just 14 of the alleged 725 total accidents the insurers claim Toyota is at least partially at fault for.

The suit reportedly alleges that Toyota is at fault for accidents blamed on unintended acceleration because the Japanese automaker failed to equip its vehicles with a brake override system that would electronically force the engine to return to idle if both the accelerator and brake pedals were pressed at the same time. After the recall hubbub first began, Toyota announced that all of its future models will come with this technology.

For its part, a Toyota spokesperson unsurprisingly responded that “any allegation that a vehicle-based defect is the cause of unintended acceleration in this or any other complaint is completely unfounded and has no basis.” In December of 2010, Toyota agreed to settle a high-profile case in California regarding unintended acceleration in a Toyota Camry for $10 million, though it never admitted any wrongdoing. Four people were killed in that accident.

In October of 2010, Allstate filed suit against Toyota seeking $3 million in compensation as a result of 270 claims of sudden acceleration.

*The seven insurance companies bringing forth this suit are: American Automobile Insurance Co., Fireman’s Fund Insurance, National Surety Corp., Ameriprise Insurance, IDS Property Casualty Insurance, Motorists Mutual Insurance and American Hardware Mutual Insurance.

Auto manufacturers asked by Rep. Issa to help cut red tape

California Representative Darrell Issa (R) has assumed the chairmanship of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, and he wants to cut through the layers of government oversight and foster business growth. Issa’s asked companies and trade associations, including Toyota, Ford, the National Association of Manufacturers and the Association of International Automobile Manufacturers to suggest which regulations make it difficult to turn a profit and, more importantly, add jobs.

The current debate over government regulation is mainly targeting efforts undertaken by the Obama administration, including new fuel economy standards that are phasing in between 2012 and 2016, are singularly expensive to implement and will cost jobs and profits – even as the boost in fuel efficiency to a fleet average of 34.1 mpg by 2016 sets the stage to save $152 billion in fuel, offsetting the nearly $1,000 of extra cost the regulations are expected to add to the price of automobiles.

In seeking the input of automakers and other business groups, Issa is looking for ways to streamline innovation and spur job growth. With its large labor pool and long reach, the automotive industry is both deeply interested and integral to the effort Representative Issa is spearheading.

[Source: The Detroit News]