Responding to recalls, Toyota equips new vehicles with 'smart stop' tech, black box recorders

In the wake of substantial vehicle recalls, Toyota says it is using smarter technology in new models to avoid repeats of its previous tech missteps.
Written by Andrew Nusca, Contributor on

Toyota is responding to its technology failures with...more intelligent technology.

In the wake of recalls earlier this year for faulty acceleration pedals that caused "runaway" vehicles, the company announced on Monday that it has equipped all 2011-model vehicles in North America with "smart stop" technology and event data recorders.

The "smart stop" tech is essentially a brake override system that automatically reduces engine power when a vehicle's brake and accelerator pedals are applied simultaneously under certain driving conditions. It's already equipped in 84 percent of Toyota, Lexus and Scion models on sale in the U.S.

As for the EDRs, they'll be available on all 2011 model year Toyota, Lexus and Scion vehicles now in production. The device provides data from before and after a collision to help Toyota understand how a vehicle's various systems functioned in a crash.

The company also expanded its "SMART" evaluation process, which helps the company gather information from the field -- translation: customer complaints about runaway cars -- and evaluate it. Since April 2010, Toyota has evaluated 4,200 vehicles with the process.

Furthermore, the company opened its North American Center for Quality Excellence on July 29 in Ann Arbor, Mich. with a focus on quality control and kaizen, or continuous improvement. Toyota also said it was reviewing its communication methods, manufacturing processes and reliability testing procedures for "key parts" from suppliers.

The goal for both: avoid repeat supply chain issues moving forward.

Finally, the company offered an update on its recalls.

To date:

  • 80 percent of the modifications in response to sticky pedals have been completed. (Vehicles affected: 2.3 million.)
  • 86 percent of the ABS -- that's automatic braking system -- program updates have been performed. (Vehicles affected: 148,000 Prius and Lexus models.)
  • 58 percent of floor mat entrapment modifications have been completed. (Vehicles affected: 5.4 million.)

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

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