Toyota Pedal Recall May Spur U.S. to Require New Brake Systems

Toyota Pedal Recall May Spur U.S. to Require New Brake Systems http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid 601087&sidVrqDdBHWCg&pos=6
Feb. 5 (Bloomberg) -- Toyota Motor Corp.s U.S. recall of 5.6 million
vehicles for possible unintended acceleration may spur regulators to require braking technology that prevents such sudden bursts of speed in all future vehicles.
So-called brake override systems, which disengage the engine when the brake and throttle are both depressed, are now on many newer autos that use computers instead of cables to control acceleration. Toyota said last month it is adding the equipment on most models, in response to a Sept. 29 recall.
Theres no question, said Joan Claybrook, a safety advocate and former director of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. We are going to see a brake override system requirement in response to this.
New regulations would build on the governments history of expanding its safety rules in response to accidents that expose dangerous vehicle defects. Upgrades such as improved fuel tanks, new gearshift designs and air-bag warnings all flowed from federal mandates to automakers since the 1970s.
The most likely outcome of this will be a regulatory catharsis, said Brian Johnson, a Barclays Plc analyst based in Chicago. There will probably be some sort of fail-safe system against unintended acceleration.
Cost Estimate
Requiring automakers to upgrade braking software may cost $25 to $50 on each vehicle, Johnson said. That expense would rise to a range of $50 to $150 should regulators compel installation of new technology, he said.
A NHTSA spokeswoman, Karen Aldana, didnt respond to a phone call or e-mail seeking comment.
Brake override systems work in tandem with the electronic throttle control technology that was unveiled in the late 1980s and is becoming an industry standard as automakers rush to meet safety rules taking effect in 2012.
Electronic throttle controls use computer signals, not the mechanical action of cables attached to the accelerator pedal, to adjust a cars speed. In a conventional auto, releasing the pedal eases the cable pressure, closing the throttle. In vehicles with an electronic control, a brake override unit would cut power to the wheels if the throttle is stuck open.
General Motors Co. and Ford Motor Co. now have brake override units on some models, while Honda Motor Co. said it doesnt have the technology. Chrysler Group LLC said it has override controls on all autos with electronic throttle systems.
Toyotas Response
Toyota said Jan. 11 it would install the technology to cover most of its lineup after a 2009 recall. Hyundai Motor Co. and Nissan Motor Co. said they have brake override systems, as do luxury brands such as Daimler AGs Mercedes-Benz, which put the units on autos with electronic throttle control.
It would make sense to require a brake override, said Michael Omotoso, a powertrain analyst at J.D. Power & Associates in Troy, Michigan. I would be pretty surprised if it didnt happen soon.
Toyotas most-recent recall began Jan. 21, covering about 2.57 million vehicles in the U.S. and Canada to fix pedals that may cause the throttle to stick in an open position. The Toyota City, Japan-based automaker halted sales of eight models and shut five North American factories while it rolls out a repair.
That followed a separate recall of 5.35 million Toyotas after floor mats in some models interfered with the accelerator pedal and kept the throttle propped open.
Pending Lawsuits
The worlds largest automaker faces at least 29 lawsuits seeking class action status in the U.S. and Canada, with 17 alleging defects in electronic throttle control systems. At least 10 lawsuits have been filed in the U.S. claiming deaths and injuries caused by sudden acceleration.
U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said this week the government is investigating whether some sudden speedups can be traced to electronic throttle control systems. Toyota said it has found no unintended-acceleration cases from the technology.
Im not sure if there are electronic gremlins in these cars that are making them malfunction, Bill Visnic, a senior editor for auto researcher Edmunds.com in Weirton, West Virginia. Its not impossible, but its improbable. But, either way, the brake system would prevent it.
After introducing electronic throttle control, Toyota also had a cable on the accelerator pedal as a backup from 1998 to 2002, when it determined the mechanical link was no longer needed, said Brian Lyons, a company spokesman.
Override System
Had Toyota added a backup system such as a brake override unit to cut power to the wheels, it could have kept most cars from losing control in any unintended acceleration, said attorney Robert Hilliard, who filed a suit on Jan. 29 seeking class action status in Corpus Christi, Texas. He likened the approach to a sky diver wearing an emergency parachute.
Lets say your first chute doesnt open, Hilliard said. The safety chute doesnt stop the problem, it just prevents the consequences.
Antony Anderson, a U.K.-based electrical engineering consultant who has testified as an expert witness for plaintiffs in lawsuits, said any federal rule for brake override systems should ensure that the units arent run by the computer controlling the electronic throttle system.
A case of sudden acceleration may be caused by electronic interference, so brakes guided by the same computer might not work, Anderson said.
If the electronics have malfunctioned, the software is in disarray, he said. It wont accept an additional command.
Regulatory Legacy
Regulatory changes spurred a number of the features now taken for granted in modern autos, said John Wolkonowicz, an analyst at IHS Global Insight in Lexington, Massachusetts.
Stronger fuel tanks, for example, emerged from the 1978 recall of about 1.5 million Ford Pintos on concern that rear-end collisions could spill gasoline and ignite fires, Wolkonowicz said.
So-called shift locks, which require drivers to place a foot on the brake before putting a car with automatic transmission in gear, came in response to sudden-acceleration cases involving Volkswagen AGs Audi, Wolkonowicz said. Recalls of Audi 5000 sedans from the 1978 through 1986 model years began in 1982 after more than 1,000 complaints.
While NHTSA closed its Audi investigation in 1989, the class action in that case is still pending in Cook County, Illinois.
More-recent automotive innovations include monitors to alert motorists to low tire pressure, Wolkonowicz said. Those devices became required after 271 deaths attributed to rollovers of Ford Explorer sport-utility vehicles, which spurred recalls of Firestone tires in 2000 and 2001. Worn, underinflated tires were cited for many of the Explorer crashes.
What Next?
Claybrook, the NHTSA chief during the Pinto recall, said Toyotas case may prompt the U.S. to consider criminal penalties for companies that dont react quickly to safety flaws and boost fines for some infractions to $100 million or more from a cap of $16.4 million.
Another likely quick fix is a warning label telling drivers how to stop a vehicle that accelerates unintentionally, said Omotoso, the J.D. Power analyst. Similar advisories were placed in cars after air bags were blamed for deaths of front-seat passengers, he said.
More and more of the direct control of the car is being taken away from the driver, and there is this growing sense of helplessness in the face of technology thats supposed to help us, Omotoso said. You just have to hope it all works.
--
Civis Romanus Sum

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This can seriously affect the stoplight drag races for cars with automatic transmissions. Getting the engine RPM up while holding with the brake has been done for decades.
How does it work with the toe & heel needed to get a standard shift started on a steep hill? Driving just won't be any more fun.
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Ed Pawlowski wrote:

Makes starting on any grade easy on the clutch
Standard feature on Subaru. However, they didn't invent it. It was standard on all 1939-1940 Studebakers with overdrive and available in many post WWII cars with Borg-Warner overdrive.
-- pj
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You must be an old guy as well, we old guys know "stuff" like that ;)
wrote in message news:ob-

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Most manufacture already have override system when the brakes are applied. Toyota is one of the few, unfortunately for their owners, that does not.

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Did you know you can downlaod the NHTSA database, it is huge. 761863 entries in all for the one I got. Looking at some I have:
189433 lines for GM, now Government Motors 40975 lines for Toyota 189589 lines for Ford 143323 lines for Chrysler 7498 lines for BMW 31577 lines for Honda 24760 lines for Nissan
Seems like Detriot consistantly is crap.
On 06/02/2010 9:31 AM, Mike Hunter wrote:

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Once again our friend Canuck57 is telling us the sky is falling LOL

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