First developed by Holden in 2004, GM’s Zeta platform now underpins vehicles as diverse as the Statesman/Lumina/G8/Caprice sedans, and the Chevy Camaro. Originally designed for full-sized , rear-drive Australian sedans, Zeta was downsized as far as it could be for the Camaro, which reviewers largely view as overweight and rather too ungainly for true sportscar status. Accordingly, GM has been developing a new rear-drive platform known as “Alpha,” which will form the basis of GM’s performance and luxury RWD models for the considerable future. Last we heard about Alpha was last August, when Bob Lutz swore there was no development underway of the platform he compared to BMW’s 1-/3-series. According to Motor Trend, work on the Alpha platform has begun… but there are already signs of trouble.
I’m too young to remember the 1970s, but I have recollections of a Cadillac-based abomination known as the “Castilian Fleetwood Estate Wagon.” Perhaps the recent success of Cadillac-based trucks made someone at the RenCen give the Cadillac Wagon a second look. Yet the CTS Sport Wagon isn’t a cobbled-up engineering afterthought, though it reeks of branding desperation: the American icon formerly known as the pinnacle of everything now goes for entry-level luxury success in a station wagon. And that’s why this mirage hailing from the days of Motorized Malaise has some ‘splaining to do.
Here’s TTAC’s and the web’s only complete guide to Toyota’s gas pedals (so far), with tear downs, pictures, analysis, explanation, the shim fix, and commentary, all consolidated into one portal:
Part 1: Exclusive: TTAC Takes Apart Both Toyota Gas Pedals: Tear down of both the recalled CTS pedal assembly and the non-recalled Denso pedal assembly. Note: Assumptions and conclusions in this initial tear down lack the more complete understanding of the importance of the friction arm aspect of the CTS unit.
Part 2: Toyota Gas Pedal Fix Explained – With Exclusive Photos: Describes Toyota’s proposed fix for the recalled CTS gas pedal assembly, with detailed photos and graphics. Explains the significance of the friction arm assembly and its limitations.
Part 3: Toyota Gas Pedal Fix Simulated – Friction Reduced, By Too Much?: TTAC simulates the fix prescribed by Toyota for the recalled CTS pedal assembly, and notes how the fix changes the degree of friction, and the possible unintended result. With detailed pictures
Part 4: Why Toyota Must Replace Flawed CTS Gas Pedal With Superior Denso Pedal: Detailed analysis with pictures of the two pedal assemblies, an explanation as to why the Denso design is superior, and a call for having all CTS pedals replaced with the Denso pedal.
Part 5: TTAC Does The Toyota Pedal Shim Fix: Stop Gap Solution At Best: Toyota’s solution is carried out here with detailed pictures, the whole Toyota document detailing the fix, and our commentary.
Part 6: Toyota Floor Mat/Gas pedal Recall Includes Computer Reflash And Trimming Of Gas Pedals: Info on the details of the floor mat/gas pedal interference recall.
Part 7: Toyota Recall Creates Unintended Accelerator Consequences: As predicted in Part 4 (above), the CTS shim fix reduces the carefully designed amount of friction required for comfortable and smooth pedal action to the point where pedal action may now be jerky and potentially unsafe.
(Thanks to you-know-who-you-are for access to these parts and info)
Reuters reports that the Detroit offices of Denso, a major Japanese automotive supplier, has been raided by the FBI as part of an on-going investigation into alleged anti-trust violations. Denso spokeswoman Bridgette Gollinger said the investigation was “absolutely not” related to ongoing recalls by Toyota. Denso supplies accelerator pedals (see above) and other components to the automaker. “We are cooperating with the investigation,” Gollinger said. The FBI raid was first reported by The Wall Street Journal, which said that federal investigators had also searched the Detroit area offices of two other Toyota suppliers, Yazaki and Tokai Rika. Curious coincidence of timing as this happens while Akio Toyoda testifies on Capitol Hill.
Update: a portal to all of TTAC’s articles on the subject of Toyota gas pedals is here:
Toyota has sent instructions and the shims for the field fix of the recalled sticky CTS gas pedals to dealers as of today. We have obtained the instructions (pdf here) [Hat Tip: Roxer], shims, and carried out the fix on a new CTS pedal accordingly. Follow along as we carry out the fix, and how we arrived at our unhappy conclusion. (Read More…)
One of the lingering concerns over the Toyota recall is whether Toyota’s “precision steel” shim fix to the recalled CTS gas pedal assembly will be a reliable long-term solution. Our analysis indicates that these questions might be well-founded, and we’re not the only ones concerned about the viability of Toyota’s proposed fix. In an interview with Toyota’s Jim Lentz yesterday evening, NPR asked why Toyota was using a redesigned pedal for new production, but only offering the shim fix to existing customers. Lentz insisted that the repaired pedals would be as good as the redesigned pedal, that the costs of repair and replacement were about the same, and that the main reason Toyota was repairing rather than replacing recalled pedals was the desire to “get customers back on the road… as quickly as we possibly can.” That’s when NPR went for the jugular.
According to a PR Newswire release, a class action suit has been filed against Toyota and supplier CTS, alleging “inherent design defects,” specifically a “lack of failsafes” in Toyota’s ETCS-i (Electronic Throttle Control System-intelligent), in use since 2001. As in not the pedal assembly. A similar suit was filed in the US last November. Today, Toyota’s Jim Lentz was emphatic that electronics were not the issue with the ongoing recall, but shortly after the US suit was filed, Toyota quietly announced that an electronic brake override system would be installed on certain vehicles with automatic transmissions. Is that as good as an admission of guilt? You can bet the lawyers are already saying so. The full release is available after the jump.
Update: A portal to all of TTAC’s related articles on Toyota gas pedals is here:
Toyota has released their official “fix” for the sticky CTS-made gas pedals on the recalled models affected. From their graphic, it’s difficult to understand what parts are involved, and how they work. Thanks to our recent tear-down of the CTS pedal, we have the pictures and familiarity with the unit to explain it in detail. (Read More…)
Update: To see all of TTAC’s related articles on the subject of Toyota gas pedals, go here:
In yesterday’s post , we offered a bounty for anyone to open up both the CTS (bottom) and Denso (top) Toyota gas pedal assemblies. No one took us up, and no one anywhere else has done it, so we took it upon ourselves . Here they are, both e-pedal assemblies taken apart and examined, in our quest to understand if and what the significant differences are, and how Toyota’s possible “shim” fix would work. On initial observation, it appears that the CTS may be perceived as being the more solidly engineered/built unit, in that the pedal pivots on a traditional and solid steel axle whose bearings are brass or bronze sleeves. The Denso’s whole pivot and bearing surfaces are relatively flimsy-feeling plastic. But that can be deceptive, and we’re not qualified to judge properly if it is indeed inferior or superior. So the question that goes beyond the analysis of these e-pedals is this: are these units really the full source of the problem, or are they scape goats for an electronics and/or software glitch? Pictures and tear down examination and analysis follows:
Update #2: It’s clear to me now that the CTS unit I took apart already had the side cover plates (sheet metal) removed before I examined it. One can see where they fit, and are obviously intended to protect the exposed axle pivot and bushing seen above and below:
Supplier CTS, who produced the gas pedals now under recall from Toyota, tells Automotive News [sub] that it “built parts to the automaker’s specifications and says it has no knowledge that its parts were responsible for any accidents or injuries.” Sources at CTS tell AN that although they are working on a fix with Toyota and that new pedals have been tested and are shipping to Toyota plants, “this is their recall.” That would seem to contradict the facts of the case, as Denso, Toyota’s gas pedal supplier for Japanese-built models, has not been involved in the recall. According to Inside Line, the issue with pedal return damping that has plagued CTS-supplied, US-built Toyotas has not turned up in Denso-produced gas pedals.
Though Toyota is getting the brunt of the attention for what are apparently faulty gas pedals, the fact that the problem has been traced to supplier CTS means that Toyota isn’t the only OEM that’s shutting down production until a fix for the pedals is found. Bloomberg reports that Ford’s JV with Jiangling Motors in Nanchang, China has halted production of the Ford Transit commercial van, after switching over to CTS-supplied pedals in December. “We think it’s pretty isolated, but we are aggressively running it to ground,” Ford’s Alan Mulally told analysts in today’s financial results conference call. No other Transits are said to be affected, and Jiangling says that they have not received any reports of unintended acceleration for its Transits.
When someone pays tax, they generally like to think it’s going to towards something that will benefit society. Maybe it might be a repaired road? Or funding towards a crumbling school? I doubt they would want the money to go towards shifting a supposed CamCord killer or an alleged 3 series rival, but that’s what’s going to happen. BusinessWeek reports that executives at “New” General Motors are going to cut prices and rework adverts to boost flagging sales of the Chevrolet Malibu and the Cadillac CTS; two saloons considered critical to meeting Ed Whitacre’s target of a profitable 2010. That’s right, “New” GM are going to cut prices (A.K.A “Cash on hood”) to make more sales. Sound familiar?
TTAC was invited to Cadillac’s CTS Coupe wine-and-dine event yesterday, held in that prime habitat of the modern Cadillac: the hood. OK, so it was a trendy club located in an LA slum… same diff. The CTS coupe took center stage with the new SRX, CTS wagon, CTS-V and Escalade filling out the lineup. Where were the ugly-stepsisters the DTS and STS? Not invited said a Cadiilac rep. Upon first (long distance) glance the CTS Coupe looks entertaining, but it’s only when you get up close that the true weight of this beast hits you: this is one BIG coupe. Which is funny, considering the CTS Sportwagon next to it looks remarkably small for a wagon. But there’s the rub, Caddy is trying to do everything possible with the CTS with the minimum of effort (read: cost). The proportions of the CTS belie it’s uselessness: the rear seats have the leg room and width to coddle two linebackers but sadly only enough headroom for an oompa-loompa. The art and science design team gave the CTS coupe the most defined rump of the Cadillac lineup, a dramatic chevron which culminates in a steeply triangular rear bumper and trunk lid. And yes folks that’s a trunk lid, not a useful hatchback as we might have preferred. All in all, this is one square jawed Caddy, in the mold of the classic personal luxury coupe.