is bearing the brunt of criticism and punishment for
its recent unintended acceleration problems. However, the issue
is making the whole industry a bit nervous, as there are reports of
similar incidents in models from other automakers.Toyota is
doing its part to try to remedy the issue; earlier this year it
announced that it will be rolling out a brake-shift override to all
its vehicles next year. This kind of override cuts power to the
engine by putting it in idle if the brake and accelerator are
depressed for a prolonged time. General Motors this
week announced that
it too would be installing an override system in its vehicles.
The GM system will be rolled out over the next two years and will be
completed in 2012. GM's system will "reduce power" to
the engine, according to The
but GM hasn't indicated that it will put the engine in idle. Tom
Stephens, GM's vice chairman of global product operations praised the
rollout, stating, "We know safety is top of mind for consumers,
so we are applying additional technology to reassure them that they
can count on the brakes in their GM vehicle."GM is
having braking problems of its own, which the government is
investigating. Unlike the Toyota problem, which revolves around
unintended acceleration, the GM problem involves corrosion of the
brake lines, which reportedly led to a "led to a large increase
in stopping distance and with the brake pedal pushed to the floor"
in models such as the 2003 Chevrolet Silverado 2500 HD
pickups.Overall, 6 million 1999-2003 GM pickups and SUVs and
189,000 of the 2003 2500 heavy-duty pickups are under investigation
by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
GM says its cooperating with the government.Other companies
are hopping on the override wagon, too. Mazda says it plans
on rolling out a brake-shift override system similar to that
planned by Toyota. It will finish its rollout by the end of
2011. Barbara Nocera, Mazda's director of government and public
affairs commented, "We are rolling it out across the fleet next
year. It's an evolving technology that we are applying here and we
think that it's something that consumers are very aware of now,
because of the Toyota recall issue. We think it's something that
customers will value as an added margin of safety."American
electric car maker Tesla is adding an override system of its
own. The software update to Tesla's Model S, an upcoming
electric 4-door sedan, cuts power to the engine if the car is in
neutral, if the key is in the off position, or if the driver
depresses the brakes for more than 2 seconds. This is important
as electric cars would presumably be more susceptible to malfunctions
due to cosmic rays or other forms of interference (though
the override system could, in theory, malfunction during such an
event as well).Currently a handful of German luxury brands
like BMW and Mercedes-Benz include brake override protections in
their vehicles. The feature was largely ignored by consumers
until the saga of runaway Toyota vehicles.
quote: This kind of override cuts power to the engine by putting it in idle if the brake and accelerator are depressed for a prolonged time.
quote: better throttle response
quote: It is safer to have my foot hovering over the brake instead of busy pressing the gas.
quote: In contrast, letting off the accelerator pedal in a manual transmission vehicle creates an engine braking situation.
quote: I love driving in stop-and-go traffic
quote: Let's see, did Audi's with cable driven throttles have unintended acceleration issues in the 90's? Yep.
quote: Mrs. Merv Grazinski, of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, who purchased new 32-foot Winnebago motor home. On her first trip home, from an OU football game, having driven on to the freeway, she set the cruise control at 70 mph and calmly left the driver's seat to go to the back of the Winnebago to make herself a sandwich. Not surprisingly, the motor home left the freeway, crashed and overturned. Also not surprisingly, Mrs. Grazinski sued Winnebago for not putting in the owner's manual that she couldn't actually leave the driver's seat while the cruise control was set. The Oklahoma jury awarded her, are you sitting down? $1,750,000 PLUS a new motor home. Winnebago actually changed their manuals as a result of this suit, just in case Mrs. Grazinski has any relatives who might also buy a motor home.
quote: They have these systems in place they can state its impossible to have unintended acceleration.