According to the latest reports, it appears that Toyota secretly bought back from U.S. consumers vehicles it found with speed-control defects! Yes, it appears that the Japanese manufacturer hoped to hide unintended-acceleration problems from safety regulators and the public (this is nasty!).
Apparently, the transactions also included strict confidentiality agreements, and the consumers weren’t allowed to disclose the problem with anyone. Furthermore, the consumers weren’t allowed to sue the manufacturer.
Still, according to Toyota, the vehicles were repurchased from the customers for "further engineering analysis". However, the manufacturer said that it wasn’t able to replicate those "acceleration concerns nor found any related issues or conditions in these vehicles."
Toyota spokesman Brian Lyons confirmed the fact that the manufacturer had to repurchase the cars from them, but he also said that they weren’t required, just asked, to sign a "settlement agreement" that included a release from liability and no requirement of confidentiality.
Furthermore, Toyota spokesman Brian Lyons said that in some cases the repurchases were requested by the company rather than by the consumer. Still, he declined to say how many vehicles were repurchased by the Japanese manufacturer. [via autonews - sub. required]