Toyota cars are being equipped with brake override systems, that's a fact. The reason behind it isn't the recent and as-yet-unsolved runaway car issues that have plagued the automaker. At least that's what Toyota says; the company maintains that the change was already under development. While other companies have seemingly figured out brake override, Toyota has been busy perfecting its own setup. All of this is according to what Toyota's quality general manager, Hiroyuki Yokoyama, tells Automotive News.
In the interview, Yokoyama admits that part of Toyota's recent quality problems stem in part from from the automaker's rapid growth as it overtook General Motors as the world's biggest-selling automaker. More to the point, Toyota's increase in production numbers and proliferation of model lines made quality harder to bake-in to every product. The competition has also improved in quality, closing the gap between Toyota and its rivals. Yokoyama also challenges the accusation that there are underlying problems with Toyota's electronic throttle systems, citing the number of sensors and failsafes already designed into the system. Nevertheless, Toyota is looking at its pushbutton start/stop, admits Yokoyama. To shut the engine down, the button must be depressed for three seconds, a safety feature to prevent accidental shut-offs, but perhaps that's longer than might be intuitive in an emergency.
Regardless of the reason for Toyota's plan to equip all new models with a brake override system – be it due diligence, face saving or thinly-veiled panic – the immediate priority is to avert any further reputation hits and fix whatever they find.
[Source: Automotive News - sub. req. | Image: Stan Honda/AFP/Getty]