Toyota Engineers Working On Emergency Stop Button
In the let’s-do-something-anything dept., Toyota engineers are now re-jigging the keyless ignition button, reports Das Autohaus in Germany. According to a Toyota corporate spokesperson, the re-jigged button will cut the engine when the button is pressed three times in rapid succession.
Up to now, the button had to be pressed for three seconds to stop the engine.
Whether manic jabbing the start/stop button is more intuitive than keeping your thumb on it – or, heavens forbid – to hit the brakes and to shift into neutral – remains an open question.
“Darling, the pedal is stuck.”
“Wait, I get the owner’s manual – says here to press the button for three seconds.”
“The dealer said three times.”
“The manual says three seconds.”
“Don’t you start arguing with me.”
“You started it!”
“You stop it right now!”
“YOU stop it!”
“I’m calling my lawyer.”
Not too convinced about the idea of turning the engine off with the key while driving down the road, turn it too far and on most cars this engages the steering lock... Not that anybody would, while panicing about their car accelerating off down the road. My wife's '97 Rover 600 (Honda Accord with a rover badge on - I'm in the UK) has an inbuilt way of sorting this, if you press the brake pedal the ECU automatically lifts off the power for you. Normally you wouldn't even notice this, as who accelerates and presses the brake? (It actually tries to set the engine to 1500rpm, even with your foot hard down on the accelerator/gas pedal) Revs are then limited until you lift off the accelerator and then press it again. Yes I've tried it and yes it works... Nice simple system to use (pressing the brake to make the car slow down is about as intuitive as you get) No new contol to learn the location of, or how to use it. The only shortcoming is no heel-toe driving in a manual...
I like the idea of a rotary knob on the dash or a permanent "key" in the traditional ignition switch area on the steering column/dash. My guess as to the reason why this redundant approach fell out of favor with Mazda and was rejected by Toyota is because of accountants pointing out the cost of having two controls when one cheaper button would suffice, and engineers bemoaning the fact that two controls for the same function would be a waste. Funny how many cars nowadays have redundant stereo, A/C, and cruise controls on the steering wheel, but a redundant emergency ignition cutoff switch is not an industry standard. I read a Babelfish translation of the German article above, it sounds like Toyota was warned that the three-second push was not intuitive and amounts to a safety hazard. Perhaps they are referring to a NHTSA report saying that some Lexus drivers who pushed the button failed to realize that the button required a three-second push to stop the engine. See: http://www.signonsandiego.com/news/2009/aug/31/bn31chp-lexus-crash/. Since it would be a PR disaster for Toyota to tell its customers to RTFM (even for a loaner/rental!), I wonder how much it is going to cost them to repair the gas pedals, replace the floor mats, and either reprogram or install an entirely new ignition system on millions of cars. Aside from any other software reprogramming they decide to implement, of course.
Let's cut through the haze. How does the regular owner of a Lexus/Toyota with a STOP button turn of the engine at the end of a trip? My guess is they hold that button in for 3 seconds. Or do the engines idle all day and night because they don't know how to turn their engines off? Why would they expect turning off an engine experiencing UA to be any different? All this is BS anyway, IMO. Get it through people's heads -- PUT the damn tranny in neutral if you think you are experiencing UA. Then a straightforward logic tree for programming becomes possible. Whether it takes 3 quick jabs at the button or a steady hold in to turn the engine off, there should be an international standard for cars with automatic trannies. Not this helter-skelter hodge-podge of wacko strategies, with companies heading off in every direction at once. And no matter what ultimate strategy is chosen, we can be sure that some utter dimwit(s) will get it wrong anyway. Never have I seen such knee jerk reaction, hate and confusion surround an issue like this. It seems to most rampant in the US. UA is not kitchen conversation here in Canada. The chances of UA happening to Mr. Joe Average in his Toyotamobile is minuscule. Maybe we should all be trained in underwater survival, because the chances of driving off the road and into a river or lake is higher than having your Toyota run away from you. I've seen accidents like this every damn year of my life (I live along a lake with a very winding shore road), but I have yet to see a Toyota explode into hyperspace, or met anyone else who has. But, I have seen a woman drive her Audi 5000 backwards at high speed into a store with no brakelights on, back in 1986. Perhaps that colors my perception of the problem. The world is full of dorks. And that's why driving is dangerous.