What went wrong at Toyota

Discussion in 'Architecture & Engineering' started by kmguru, Mar 1, 2010.

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  1. iceaura Valued Senior Member

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    If you are worried about this stuff, get a manual transmission car. The depression of the clutch when braking is reflex, which takes care of any unintended accelerations, and the setup tends to reduce pedal confusion - or the consequences of pedal confusion, anyway.

    Bonuses: slightly better gas mileage, better control in snow and ice.
     
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  3. TBodillia Registered Senior Member

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    True, but in the USA, the manual transmission is becoming extinct.

    http://autos.aol.com/article/stick-shift-love-affair/
    "Now we come to the year 2010. The ability to drive a car equipped with a manual transmission is becoming a dying art. The sales numbers tell the story: In 1985, according to Ward’s Communications, 22.4% of all vehicles sold in the United States came with a manual transmission. By 2007, the number had plummeted to 7.7%"

    http://www.walletpop.com/blog/2009/04/05/25-things-vanishing-in-america-part-2-the-stick-shift/
    "By 2005, that number had dropped to 6%. Four years later, finding a car with a manual transmission is a big challenge -- you have to go either high end or very low end. 2008 was the last year that any manufacturer of full-size trucks offered a manual transmission. The 2008 Dodge Ram was the last to make manual an option."
     
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  5. Read-Only Valued Senior Member

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    Here's a few more thoughts about the newer car's controls: http://redtape.msnbc.com/2010/03/toyota-woes-raise-ghost-in-the-machine-fears.html#posts

    And I'd like to call your attention to this particular section of the article:

    "This is a slight variation of what is sometimes called the Peltzman Effect. In the 1970s, economist Sam Peltzman claimed that car safety devices could be counterproductive because they actually encouraged reckless driving. While some of his claims have been discredited, it's hard to argue that today's drivers aren’t more detached than ever from the physical act of driving. That, in turn, can contribute to unsafe behaviors. Some cars make it possible to drive 90 mph while feeling as comfortable as sitting in a living room chair.

    Ease of operation=hard to control

    This detachment may be playing a role in the Toyota unintended acceleration tragedies, Fisher said. For example, he said, drivers who pilot manual transmission cars are intimately aware of how to disengage their transmissions from the car's drive train by shifting into neutral, something they do dozens of times each day. But many automatic transmission drivers have never once put their car's gear box into the neutral position and have trouble performing that task in life-threatening crises.

    Newer luxury cars have even more automation and ease-of-use features. The car most associated with the acceleration problem, the Lexus ES350, is particularly automated, Fisher said. It boasts push-button starting and a neutral position that's out of the driver's normal operation range.

    "It's a very isolating vehicle, he said. “That makes it incredibly easy to operate, but some things, like putting the car in neutral, are not obvious."

    Norman disagrees with the detachment premise, and instead blames a lack of standardization in the new feature implementation.

    "It's really a design issue," he said. "Every automobile has different ways of handling these things. ... We've all experienced a situation where you are in a new car and you want to blow the horn but you can’t find it. It's the same with the on-off switch."
     
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  7. TBodillia Registered Senior Member

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    That's why NHTSA says something like 99.6% of all reported cases of "sudden acceleration syndrome" are driver error. It is either a "new to you" car and/or you are putting a half-assed effort in driving the car (holding the door open, one foot in & one out).

    Every automatic transmission gear selector starts the same: Park Reverse Neutral and then your forward gears. Saying Neutral is out a driver's normal range is a bit absurd. Their first thought is to grab a cell phone and dial 911 but have no idea how to shift into Neutral?

    And again, the shift pattern is wonky because of the Audi scare from the 80s. Brake Override will be the new mandatory safety feature in new cars starting 2013 I'm guessing. TPMS was introduced fairly quickly after Ford's Explorer rollover problem.

    My mom had a real SAS accident back in the 70s. 2 of the 4 motor mounts failed causing the engine to roll. It locked the throttle wide open, pinched off the brake lines and jammed up the transmission. The brake pedal wouldn't budge. The transmission wouldn't shift out of Drive. She brought the van (it had dual gas tanks) to a stop by switching to the gas tank that was "on fumes". The only thing she didn't try was turning it off, because she wasn't sure what would happed. I don't know if the steering wheel would lock in a 1970s van with the key still in the ignition, but I do know it was before the "push to release" safety feature so the key would have easily come out.
     
  8. Read-Only Valued Senior Member

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    Really? Then are we suppose to understand that to mean that you have actually been inside every single make and model from say, 1990 forward and examined the shifting arrangement???

    Somehow, I find that highly doubtful...
     
  9. TBodillia Registered Senior Member

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    It is called standardization. Every single car manufactured in the world meets the same basic international standards. The accelerator is the pedal on the right, the brakes are on the left or middle, the clutch on the left. The gauges the driver utilizes are directly behind the steering wheel. And so on...

    This is from the Slovenian Institute for Standardization, but it does cover everything nicely.
    http://www.sist.si/eng/g2/g23.htm

    International standardization applies to all products. It doesn't mean all products are exactly alike. It means all items are basically similar.
     
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