"I favor general use of the psychic-prison metaphor to free people from the traps of favored ways of thinking and to unleash their power and creativity."
--Gareth Morgan
"We cannot just remodel the prison. No, we've got to get out of it."
--W. Edwards Deming

Friday, February 26, 2010

What was Toyota thinking?

In response to Congresswoman Speier's question about whether Toyota would offer installation of a brake override "chip" to any existing Toyota customer who requests one, Mr. Toyoda responds (@6:02):

"I do not know the technical details, but if it is technically and engineeringly possible, or if we can find a good method, we will do that, but other than that I do not know a good answer to that."

It seems like he should have already had an answer to such a question, as it's a question that should have been asked internally at Toyota, and been asked well before Congresswoman Speier asked it this week. I would've thought of Toyota leadership as being well-versed in brake override systems, particularly as 1) they still don't believe electronics could be an issue, 2) such a software upgrade would prevent sudden acceleration from any mechanical cause (pedal hooked on floor mat, bad pedal spring return, etc.), 3) U.S. auto manufacturers have already equipped their cars with such a brake override feature starting several years ago, 4) people have died in SA crashes, and it doesn't take a senior design engineer to figure out that such a system can save lives, and 5) a brake override system, as one auto industry analyst put it, is essentially no cost, as it's just a few lines of software code, and the software development cost when spread over an entire fleet of vehicles is negligible.

Makes me wonder, what was Toyota thinking? So, the congresswoman's call for Toyota to provide any company documentation related to the NHTSA visit to Japan seems a reasonable and pertinent one.

I'm quite impressed with Congresswoman Speier's line of questioning here, as I was with our other members of congress.