Toyota Will Offer To Fix Gas Pedals and Software In Its Cars To Stop Runaways

As we blogged about here over a week ago, Toyota Motor Corporation has now officially announced a "vehicle-based remedy to address the root cause of the potential risk for floor mat entrapment of accelerator pedals in certain Toyota and Lexus models."

Toyota announced several elements to its "remedy."

First: "The shape of the accelerator pedal will be reconfigured to address the risk of floor mat entrapment, even when an older-design all-weather floor mat or other inappropriate floor mat is improperly attached, or is placed on top of another floor mat.  For the ES350, Camry, and Avalon models involved, the shape of the floor surface underneath will also be reconfigured to increase the space between the accelerator pedal and the floor."

Second: "Vehicles with any genuine Toyota or Lexus accessory all-weather floor mat will be provided with newly-designed replacement driver- and front passenger-side all-weather floor mats."

Third: "Toyota will install a brake override system onto the involved Camry, Avalon, and Lexus ES 350, IS350 and IS 250 models as an extra measure of confidence. This system cuts engine power in case of simultaneous application of both the accelerator and brake pedals."

Toyota has long resisted a brake override system, so it is good to see it change its minds on this issue. Crashes such as that involving Officer Mark Saylor and his family might have been avoided.

Toyota went on to say that the brake override system will be made standard equipment throughout the Toyota and Lexus product lines starting with January 2010 production of the ES350 and Camry models and is scheduled to be incorporated into new production of most models by the end of 2010.

Toyota plans to have dealers ready to implement the changes by the beginning of 2010, at which point Toyota will begin notifying its customers to bring in their cars to receive the "remedy."

According to this story in the Washington Post, Toyota is "very, very confident that we have addressed this issue."

The initial estimated cost to Toyota of the recall is around $250 million.

After the recall is complete, it will be interesting to see whether there are still cases of runaway Toyota vehicles, which some still insist are caused by a fundamental problem in the electronic engine control systems of Toyota vehicles (and which Toyota strongly denies). If so, Toyota's reputation for quality and safety will take a huge drubbing.

And its managers may be asked to take more than a 20% cut in their bonuses.

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