I was watching the classic British gangster film “The Long Good Friday” the other day. For those not in the know, it’s a story about how Harold Shand, the kingpin gangster of London, struggles to keep his grip in the London underworld when the IRA try to muscle in on his patch. I won’t spoil it for you, but suffice to say, it isn’t pretty. Shortly after watching the film, I came across an article in the Wall Street Journal detailing yet another Toyota quality problem. From Floormatgate to the 110,000 Tundras which allegedly rust prematurely, to this most recent headline, “Corolla and Matrix face U.S safety probe,” there’s clearly something rotten in Toyota City. Much like the aforementioned Harold Shand, Toyota built an empire on the foundation of quality and reliability, but now, subsidence and rot are affecting that foundation. The question for the Best and Brightest is this: Are Toyota in danger of losing their crown of quality and reliability in the minds of consumers? Or are these recent cases statistical outliers that car buyers take for granted?
Automotive News [sub] is reporting that Toyota will replace or reshape some 3.8m accelerator pedals to reduce the risk of them becoming lodged against floormats. Toyota will also be replacing some floormats as it battles a recent unintended acceleration scare. But far more interesting than the prosaic alterations to pedals and mats is Toyota’s decision to take modifications a step further on certain affected models. AN [sub] explains:
Toyota will install a brake override system on the involved Camry, Avalon, and Lexus ES 350, IS 350 and IS 250 models “as an extra measure of confidence.” The system will shut off engine power if drivers press the accelerator pedal and brake pedal simultaneously.
Oy. More proof that it only takes a few idiots thinking their car is possessed to ruin burnouts for everyone. Well, everyone who owns a slushbox Toyota or Lexus, anyway.
CBS’ Marketwatch reports from Tokyo (or more accurately, blogs the Japanese Business Daily Nikkei’s reporting) that Toyota is going to change out accelerator pedals in US market vehicles in hopes of putting the issue behind them. “Toyota Motor Corp. will make changes to gas pedals in certain U.S. models under an agreement with the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, according to a published report, in response to accidents blamed on the accelerators getting stuck to the floor mats. Toyota still maintains that the vehicles are not actually defective. But to settle the potentially image-damaging issue, it will change the gas pedals so they are less likely to get stuck. The work will be handled through dealerships, Japanese business daily Nikkei reported Saturday.” Interestingly enough, nothing is said about non-US market vehicles.