The settlement, valued at over $1 billion, will be distributed in part via a $250 million pool for customers who have sold or turned in leased vehicles in the affected years. The lawsuit claimed that the resale value of Toyota vehicles dropped steeply after several recalls related to accelerator and braking systems.
In 2009 and 2010, Toyota received reports of vehicles accelerating on their own, causing injuries and accidents. While many sources pointed finger at the software code for the automaker’s electronic throttle control system, no error in the code has been found, and driver error, faulty floor mats, and stuck accelerator pedals have been suggested by the company as possible reasons for the accidents in question.
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Hundreds of lawsuits have been filed in the wake of Toyota’s recall of over 14 million vehicles, which were consolidated in US District Court in Santa Ana, California in two categories, economic loss and wrongful death. Those seeking compensation for injury and death due to the acceleration problems are not included in the settlement; the first of those lawsuits is set to begin in February.
Current owners of Toyota vehicles will have access to a supplemental warranty program, a move that Toyota Motor Corp. hopes will show that they stand behind their products. Also included in the settlement are funds for retrofitting vehicles with a brake override system. The system is designed to allow the car to stop even if the accelerator is depressed.
Remaining funds will go into driver education programs and continued research into vehicle safety.
More information is expected to be distributed to those affected by the settlement in the coming months. A website has been set up for those with affected vehicles. http://www.ToyotaELsettlement.com
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