SAN FRANCISCO (AFP) – Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak on Friday held firm to his love for Prius cars despite what he suspects is a Toyota software problem behind sudden spikes in acceleration.
“I love my Prius,” Wozniak said during on-stage banter with AT&T Tech Channel’s Hugh Thompson during a geek talk show at the closing of an RSA computer security conference here.
“It’s just like all the other gadgets we have… Everything today has a computer in it, so everything will fail.”
Wozniak said he has bought nine Prius cars and even drove one from the Silicon Valley city of San Jose to San Francisco that day.
He said he conducted his own tests of Prius acceleration, taking his car to an open stretch of highway at dusk and then incrementally notching up the speed using the cruise control mechanism.
At “some number over 72″ the car accelerated and kept picking up speed, Wozniak said.
“I wanted to see how high it would go,” Wozniak said. “It wound up being unlimited so I hit the brake. The problem had to be in the software.”
Wozniak advised treating cars like any other computer-based mechanisms by shutting them down at signs of trouble and then restarting them to essentially reboot systems.
“We who work in computers know there are all kinds of little failures,” Wozniak said. “I love Toyota; I’m going to buy more of them. I think it is not unsafe.”
His remarks came as key US lawmakers looking into Toyota’s problems with deadly spikes in speed asked the company for documents backing up its position that electronic defects were not to blame.
Representatives Henry Waxman and Bart Stupak, top Democrats on a key House committee looking into the Japanese auto giant’s woes, made the request in a letter to the embattled company’s top US executive.
“We do not understand the basis for Toyota’s repeated assertions that it is ‘confident’ there are no electronic defects contributing to incidents of sudden unintended acceleration,” they wrote.
The lawmakers’ letter to Toyota Motor Sales USA president James Lentz said the firm has yet to share documents conclusively documenting its position that such flaws are not behind speed surges blamed for some 50 US deaths.
They also sought detailed quarterly reports on claims of sudden unintended acceleration and detailed information on the installation of brake override systems designed to slow vehicles and on so-called ‘black-box’ data from cars and trucks involved in accidents.
The Japanese giant recalled more than eight million cars worldwide to repair accelerator and brake defects.