The government sent investigators Tuesday to examine a Prius that sped out of control on a California freeway, and Toyota said it wanted to interview the driver as the besieged automaker dealt with a high-profile new headache that raised questions about the safety of its beloved hybrid.
A day after state troopers helped the car slow to a stop and its driver to emerge unharmed, Toyota could shed no new light on what might have gone wrong. The Prius is not part of Toyota's vast recall of gas pedals that can become stuck, but it is covered by an earlier recall of floor mats that can catch the accelerator.
The freeway incident happened at the worst possible time for Toyota - just hours after it invited reporters Monday to hear experts insist that electronic flaws could not cause cars to speed out of control under real driving conditions.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration sent two investigators to examine the car, a government spokeswoman said. Toyota Motor Corp. spokesman Brian Lyons said the automaker is sending three of its own technicians to investigate.
Another Toyota spokesman, John Hanson, said the company wanted to talk to the driver, James Sikes.