Posted on October 31st, 2012 No comments
I don’t normally like to link to Jalopnik but, credit where it’s due, this is their story.
It seemed, to me at least, that this story was pretty quiet in social media today. I saw a small number of posts and they could all be described as quiet.
So, what does it mean if a dozen or more (16?) Karmas burn after being submerged in salt water. Well, the obvious thing is, do not submerge your Karma in salt water. I’m not sure this story is yet another well deserved slap up side the head to Fisker or if they were just one of the many victims of Hurricane Sandy. To know for sure I would need to see what happened to other vehicles similarly treated. It’s a pretty extreme test for anything. Salt water is notoriously unkind to most things.
I almost want to say that no matter what, this looks bad for Fisker but I’m not saying that. To be fair, this could have been, to one extent or another, unavoidable.
Posted on November 18th, 2010 No comments
Powered by Tesla. Not a bad tagline. Not bad at all.
Posted on February 19th, 2010 No comments
Play the latest What Drives Us episode
This week Danny and Russell joined by Tony Schaefer to discuss, sorry, more on the Toyota recall, ton foil hat conspiracies, why does “sudden acceleration” occur (hint: it has to do with the gas pedal), more on the Nissan Leaf and the return of Maximum Bob Lutz, GM’s prognosticator supreme. We also pass along our most sincere sympathies to the families and staff of Tesla Motors for the tragic loss of three of their engineers in a terrible plane accident.
Download it through iTunes here.
Posted on February 18th, 2010 No comments
Did you ever stop to think about doors? I have.
You know, a door that opens out is great for a house. It makes sense. On a car, it’s ridiculously stupid. Car doors should open up (like a rotating gull wing door). Imagine all the dings in the side of your car that wouldn’t be there if car doors opened sensibly?
Yeah, I know. I do think about this stuff though.
Posted on February 13th, 2010 No comments
This week we welcome back Dr. Evan Fusco as our guest panelist and we further dissect not only the 2010 recall but the software update, which both Danny and Russell had done. Finally, a little bit on the announcement of the Nissan Leaf.
Play the latest What Drives Us episode
In this thread.
From a WaPo story on Toyota. It goes over how at least one insurance may have warned NHTSA about accelerator problems as early as 2007 but read on braver visitor, the punchline awaits…
“When we see something that might be helpful, we pass it along,” said Dick Luedke, a State Farm spokesman.
Luedke declined to go into detail about the alerts, except to characterize them as “numerous” and not “everyday” occurrences. He directed further questions to NHTSA.
NHTSA spokeswoman Karen Aldana said the agency received a claim letter from State Farm in September 2007 regarding a Camry crash. (emp. mine)
“Our investigative staff reviewed the report and added the information to our complaint database,” she said in a statement.
Aldana offered no comment on the other alerts from State Farm on Toyotas.
Now that is some excellent reporting. Almost content free. How many people had crashes? Had bad were they? Could they could connected to a common fault? Everyone is talking in this story but as the song goes, “They ain’t sayin anything”.
This could be huge, important information that could be devastating to Toyota and their customers. It could be trivial. We don’t know. We can’t evaluate it for ourselves because the critical details aren’t there.
Oh, and yes, NHTSA is a big issue here and one reason why, I would opine, that Toyota isn’t saying a lot.
Dated Tuesday, February 9th, read this op-ed published in the Washington Post.
Here’s the text of an announcement made on February 5th from the Toyota newsroom:
Toyota Motor Corporation President Akio Toyoda Announces Global Quality Task Force
February 5, 2010
Toyota Motor Corporation President Akio Toyoda spoke at a press conference today in Nagoya. Mr. Toyoda expressed his deep regret for the inconvenience and concern caused to our customers. He also announced that he personally will take the lead toward improving quality around the world by establishing a global quality task force that will conduct quality improvement activities region by region.
The Committee headed by Mr. Toyoda will have a six point action plan:
1) Improve Quality Inspection Process – Toyota will once again inspect every process, while verifying the causes that led to the recalls, including quality in design, production, sales and service.
2) Enhance Customer Research – Toyota will enhance the customer information research offices in each region to collect information faster.
3) Establish an “Automotive Center of Quality Excellence” in key regions to further develop quality management professionals
4) Support from Outside Experts – Toyota will seek confirmation and evaluation from outside experts—in line with the industry’s best practices—of its newly improved quality control management, based on the above improvements.
5) Increased Communication – In addition, Toyota will work to increase the frequency of communication with regional authorities.
6) Improve regional autonomy – To provide customers with satisfying products in each and every region, Toyota has long promoted the autonomy of its regional subsidiaries. We intend to further enhance this autonomy, listen carefully to each and every customer and improve quality.
Detailed information and answers to questions about issues related to recalls are available to customers at www.toyota.com/recall and at the Toyota Customer Experience Center at 1-800-331-4331.
Just my opinion.
The news. What we currently refer to as “the media”. It’s a constant vacuum on our society sucking up everything within reach of its gaping maw and yet, all we get out of the other end, as with a household vacuum, is all too frequently just hot air.
The news cycle sucks the life out every event. And what’s more there’s a false hierarchy established, the lead story is, well, the lead. It has to be important or they wouldn’t talk about it first. It’s a ridiculous and arbitrary measure. As part of a futile attempt to fill time and grab eyeballs, we see stories which are trivial rise to international publicity right next to important stories. We see the same b-roll footage and hear the same sound byte vivisected over and over again by a small pool of reporters, commentators and pundits. It’s a frighteningly inbred pool.
I think, in a world where (/Don LaFontaine) truly important things are happening we’re seeing lead off coverage, for much of the last two weeks, on Toyota. On a car. On a recall, an event which is hardly unknown to this fine land. On a recall where the documented injuries can be counted on one hand. And no, that’s not to minimize anyone’s safety or the seriousness of issues involved. Something like the Toyota story demands coverage. But it also deserves, no, we deserve, as listeners, viewers and readers, we deserve to know the facts. We deserve to not have to sift through hours of speculation just because someone has to fill in the time between commercials (or space between display ads).
All of this ranting of mine is leading up to this. I think that once some of the dust from this settles we’re going to find out that if we had given this issue some time to develop and the parties involved time to respond, I think that if we understood all the legal and regulatory issues involved, we’d find a much less dramatic story. I think we would find something much less deserving of the treatment the Toyota recall and the 2010 Prius brakes have received. And I think if we’d been told about this in a rational, succinct and informative matter, we would be better served by those organizations whose secondary mission is, after all, to inform us.
I’m not absolving Toyota of anything here. Nothing. Rather, I am creating an indictment of the media who have, once again, let us down. I’m saying that we should know about this. All of us. I’m saying the way the media has handled the news has put a false imperative on the story and created the idea that Toyota was required to communicate daily with them on the issue. We need the media to put pressure on corporations. We need a media that holds corporations responsible for what they do. Now, more than ever, we need a media that is asking the tough questions, the right questions and delivering a clear and factual narrative.
How many of you think, no matter what you think of Toyota, that’s what we have?
What we don’t need are hourly reports when, in fact, there isn’t anything to report or information will be forthcoming. There’s a ticking clock put on some news stories that may or may not be a reasonable or even sensible. It’s all out proportion to the importance of the issue.
Back to Toyota. With regard to the 2010 Prius issues in the media. I think we’ll find out that Toyota has been and will continue to do the right thing for their customers. I think we’ll find that a lot of the smoke and heat from the media was just that.
I started this site almost five years ago (it will be five years in April). I started it for one reason. I wanted to create the kind of site I wish had existed when I was looking around at different Toyota sites. That isn’t to denigrate what anyone else is doing online. I think we’re all part of the what makes the net and to an extent, citizen journalism and commentary so vital. We’re just different parts and we perform different functions. I wanted the Prius Owners Group to be, I guess pretty selfishly, a site that I would like to read and I directly borrowed organization, intent and presentation ideas from my favorite sites. The POG has always been a place I could be proud of not because it’s the best or the most traveled or the most linked to. The POG is instead the very best that I can do. And there have been a few times in the last five years when I stared to feel like I was phoning it in. I didn’t have anything really passionate to post or comment on. And if you’ve been a regular reader, one of the dozen or so of you out there, you’ve seen times when not a lot happened here. It’s those times when I’ve chosen to let the site sit fallow, for a day, or sometimes more, rather than stuff it with filler. I value my time and you know, I value your time more than that.
Thanks for coming by and reading.
More news, as we get it.
I’ve been a BBC World News fan for years. I love their reporting and I just finished a brief interview with them regarding the 2010 Prius and the braking issue. Listen this evening if you want hear it. While you won’t hear me saying anything you haven’t read here before, well, it’s on the radio. The BBC no less.
Thanks to Paul from the Beeb for calling.
Want to learn more about the Toyota recall and the 2010 brake issue? Listen to our weekly podcast, “What Drives Us”. Click on the link below.
Or download it through iTunes. Simply put “What Drives Us” in the search box at the iTunes store.
Posted on February 8th, 2010 2 comments
So it’s Monday and the media and the intertubes have been abuzz with Prius recall news. Problem is, as the old kids’ game “telephone” proves, re-communicating usually ends up communicating very little.
Here’s what I know as of noon today.
- -There is no recall anywhere for the 2010 Prius.
- -Anyone who conflates the alleged issues with the 2010 Prius and the accelerator recall on other Toyota models probably isn’t going to be right on very much else. Ignore them.
- -Anyone who thinks “this is the end of Toyota” is an idiot.
- -My Own Opinion: The 2010 does not have a flaw, defect or a problem with the brakes. This issue has raised itself for a number of reasons, the recall on other models of Toyotas and that deep seated hatred many people seem to harbor for the vehicle being the two them. The “problem” is merely the way in which Prius brakes. Yes, it is different from a standard vehicle but it is not dangerous. Many things about Prius are different from a standard vehicle. Put simply, were Toyota to change everything about Prius that was different from the experience of driving a standard guess what you would have? Yes, a standard vehicle, not a Prius.
- -People panic very easily.
- -Toyota has updated the 2010 Prius software in the last few months of production. Again, not to correct a defect, it updates software during production as refinements make themselves available. Those of us with computers (yes, all of you reading this) know that your software is regularly updated. Does that mean it was defective before?
Posted on February 5th, 2010 No comments
There was time when America was informed by newspapers. Don’t get me wrong, half-assed journalism has always been with us. There never was a “golden age” where all journalists (in any medium) were daring and sought naught but the truth. But I would contend there is a reason that newspapers have been declining in readers steadily for the last twenty-five years.
Kiah Haslett of the Chicago Tribune contacted me via email yesterday about the Toyota recall. I called her back while on my way to a job (I’m a working photographer, but no, not for a newspaper, I do commercial work). I spent probably twenty minutes chatting with her in detail about the 2010 Prius and carefully explaining the “brake problem”. I thought we were really communicating. Maybe we were. But if you read this story, it’s difficult to to tell.
The lead off graph is about how a man is “distraught” and cannot relax since the recall. Lucky man if the worst thing in his world is a car recall in a year when the economy is cratering, hundreds of thousands die in natural disasters and we’re still involved in two wars which kill Americans nearly every day.
Which isn’t to say that the gentleman Haslett profiles in the beginning of her article is foolish for being concerned about his daughter. That’s natural. It’s the way he characterizes and what he thinks the solution is that is downright stupid.
Lucy Liu says she’s getting rid of her Solara and doesn’t want another Toyota. So she’s buying a Lexus. All that beauty apparently surrounds less than a probing intellect. That’s sad.
We get a one liner from another Toyota owner and then, me.
The problem with doing a “phoner” is that I didn’t record my end so I can’t compare how she quoted me to what I actually said. Suffice to say, I thought I spent more than enough time trying to explain the situation and the jumbled mess there attributed to me makes it seem as though I’m comfortable with brakes that don’t work so much as entertain.
The finale of Haslett’s article is a redux of the distraught man from the top. He says complained a problem to the dealer but the dealer said it was ok. Well, what was the problem she complained about? Is it too much to ask a reporter to report critical details? Is he alleging the dealer ignored an out of control acceleration issue? or something else? Readers of the Tribune won’t find out.
The article ends with this plaintive but utterly pointless quote,
“When I signed for the car, I didn’t sign for this,” he said.
Does anyone ever buy a car thinking it won’t be perfect and trouble-free forever? However unrealistic that is, I get it, but so what? It’s silly to think that way. There’s a reason why car companies offer warranties and reason why car buyers love them. Because we live in an imperfect world. But that’s trivializing the issue and I’m here to do that. I am here to point out how shallow that ending sentence was.
Look, I’m not minimizing how much it sucks to have a car recalled especially for something potentially serious. That said, out of millions of Toyota out there, we’re talking about, quite literally, a handful of complaints. To my knowledge, no accidents or injuries have resulted. Again, that’s not to minimize that a recall sucks but let’s be adults here. We live in a world of mass produced goods. Sometimes, with some of the things we buy there are problems. To expect otherwise is to live in some odd fantasy world filled with marshmallow clouds and unicorns. Cars get recalled all the time. If this were a Chevy recall, it wouldn’t be a story. Want me to prove it?
This week the NHTSa announced it was investigating 1,132 complaints about steering defects in four model years of the Chevrolet Cobalt affecting more than 900,000 cars.
Have you heard about that on the Today show?
Maybe the president of Chevy made a video and apologized for it?
Maybe your local news station went to their Chevy dealer to ask about it?
None which makes the Toyota recall any different but it does highlight the unique nature of this story, something which I think, is fueling this media feeding frenzy. It’s weird. Toyotas don’t usually have problems. Toyota isn’t typically involved in a mass recall such as this one. So it’s different. So it deserves the insane amount of coverage it’s getting, right?
So, back to intrepid reporter Kiah and the Chicago Tribune. Sure, as the story headline makes clear, many Toyota owners are frustrated. Some of them are downright nuts (see the idiot Tundra owner in the post below). But for most of us, it’s an inconvenience and not much more. And that’s the way it should be. Since we can’t expect any manufacturer to be perfect, we hope they are very, very good and when there is a problem we want to them to solve it quickly and effectively. Which, curiously enough, is exactly what Toyota is doing. And yet, the news cycle grinds on.
As I try to wind this epic screed down I want to specifically address the 2010 Prius “brake problem” and compare and contrast this with the accelerator recall. I’m also going to toss a little gasoline on this fire.
Keep in mind, the accelerator recall only involved Toyota’s made here in the US and the part specifically involved is also made here in the US. Toyota’s made in Japan are not affected by the recall or, apparently, afflicted with this issue. Funny how that gets glossed over, eh?
All Prius currently come from Japan, so conflating this “brake issue” (and I’ll get to why I keep putting that in quotes shortly) with the accelerator is really mixing two very different issues together as one.
Ok, here’s the deal on the 2010 brakes and Prius brakes in general. Prius uses a system common to most hybrids where the brakes are a combination of two things, a generator and the standard friction brakes common to every car. The generators are used during the first part of the braking procedure. The generators reduce the speed of the car in the same manner standard friction brakes do but, unlike standard friction brakes, they generate electricity which is used to keep the hybrid batteries charged. Standard friction brakes only generate heat and wear down the braking surface. It’s one reason why most Prius owners don’t replace brakes for 100,000 miles or more.
Now, there is a transition, when braking where the generators are no longer engaged and the standard friction brakes are. Let me put it another way. If you were to index the pressure you apply to your brakes from 1 to 100. As you apply pressure that index number increases. In Prius, you’re not using the standard friction brakes until you hit about index number 80 or so (depending on how you apply them, this is much simpler than the actual process is). From 80 or so onward, the regenerative braking is no longer engaged and the standard friction brakes are.
With me so far? It’s pretty simple actually. The whole thing is controlled under a very much more than I bothered to explain set of computer instructions that react much faster than you possibly could. This computer also takes into consideration whether or not all the wheels are turning (if you were sliding for instance). All in all it makes the Prius brake system very safe and extremely efficient (like the rest of the car). This isn’t much different from the standard ABS braking system. It’s a lot tougher than it used to be to stand on the brakes and make the car skid around. That’s an improvement, not a defect.
So, where “issue” comes up is this. There are times when applying the brakes in Prius, if you happen to traveling over a broken road surface, a pothole or, something that happens to me all the time because of where I live, if you’re going over something like a railroad crossing. If you’re applying the brakes steadily as you go over this surface sometimes you will feel the transition between the regenerative system and the standard friction system. It’s a weird feeling, somewhat akin to being in free fall for a brief instant, then, the friction brakes kick in and you continue to slow down. It’s a fraction of a second but an intense fraction of a second. Next time it happens, you think to yourself, “Oh yeah, that.”
I first noticed this in my 2005 Prius and I’ve noticed it in my 2010. We have especially mediocre roads in Lancaster. Some Prius owners have never noticed it. The thing is, it’s not necessarily a “problem”. It’s not a “defect” in the general sense. It’s the way that braking system works.
Allow me to make a final analogy.
Let’s say you’re a Prius owner. Maybe a new Prius owner. Maybe out for your first drive in your new car. You’re driving away from the dealership and and you see a red light ahead. You stop at the intersection and as you do, the gas motor in your new Prius stops running! Dead silence. You can’t believe it. Your Prius just stalled. When the light turns green, you press on the accelerator and glide through the intersection.
Now, did you just experience a “defect” or a “problem” or was it the normal behavior of Prius?
The answer is, of course, it’s the way Prius works. Same goes for the brakes. Yes, it’s different from “standard” cars. Yes, if you don’t know what’s going on it’s weird as hell. But it’s not a problem.
Did you know that more than three quarters of the people who drive a 2010 Prius are brand new to hybrids?
All of which is to say, Toyota is being unfairly lambasted for this 2010 brake issue. I don’t think it’s an issue at all. And I very much hope that the solution is not something which kills the regenerative braking system, one of the great things about Prius.
We, as the public, must grow up and not be lemmings eager to hurl themselves into the sea at the slightest provocation. We need to demand, because as customers, we deserve to know, good explanations and complete resolutions. But we also need to be reasonable and fair. Acting like a spoiled child may be satisfying for some but it’s not any more appealing than it sounds. I know a lot people at Toyota. To a person they are nice, reasonable people who work very hard to build honest cars at a good value. History shows us that they’ve been successful at it for a long time. Toyota builds a lot of cars here in the US. Toyota employs tens of thousands of Americans. This isn’t about bashing a “foreign” car company. When Ford builds the Fusion in Mexico and Toyota builds the Camry in Kentucky, we have to revise our thinking on who is “foreign” and how that word even applies anymore. Piling on Toyota and allowing a pathetic media to do so is not good for us. It doesn’t inform us. It’s infantilizes us. We’re not spoiled children.
A long time ago one of my bosses told me, “No one is perfect. To err is indeed human and what distinguishes us is how we deal with those imperfections both ours and of others.”
Wise words indeed. It’s how we fix mistakes that distinguish as human beings both good and bad. Expecting things to be perfect isn’t human. It’s just stupid.
If you have questions about your Toyota drop me a line. I’m always here to help.
Posted on February 5th, 2010 No comments
Most importanly, if you have questions, go here: http://www.toyota.com/recall
Chances are the media have it wrong.
Priuschat is reporting via an anonymous source at Toyota that a “fix” is imminent.
Ok, fair enough, I guess but I’d really love to hear what exactly is being viewed as the “problem” right now. I understand that because hybrids don’t work in exactly the same manner as grandpappy’s old Buick, some people feel their cars are defective. Sadly, just explaining that situation isn’t enough.
Or, is there really a problem with some 2010′s? All 2010′s? My brakes work just fine.
One thing is for certain, we’re getting a lot more heat than light from most of the media who either don’t understand the issues involved or don’t want to bother with explanations that are longer than most peoples’ attention spans. Oh. I wonder if I just nailed that one?
Suffice to say right now all we official know is that both the NHTSA and Toyota are looking into the “issue” of 2010 Prius brakes.
More here, of course, when it is available.
(hint, might be a good thing to have your VIN number handy)
Previous eight models of Toyota recalled for accelerator issues
As I understand the replacement parts are on their way or have already arrived at dealers now. The training for technicians was this week. We should start seeing dealers reaching out to owners to schedule replacements next week.
Try not to do what this idiot did…
A Toyota Tundra crashed into the showroom at All Star Toyota in Baton Rouge on Saturday morning. Officers said a customer tried to return his truck following a recent recall on the accelerator. According to the Baton Rouge Police Department, the general manager offered to fix the truck and repeatedly offered to give the customer a loaner in the meantime, but the customer declined and left the building. Police reported the man then drove his Toyota into the side of the dealership, causing major damage to the truck and the building. The customer claimed his accelerator became stuck, causing the crash. All Star said the truck was purchased last March [emphasis added] and did not have any records of mechanical problems.
Police added the accelerator was not stuck when they examined the truck after the crash, but they could not find any evidence that the crash was intentional. The driver was not ticketed.
It’s this kind of dishonesty from a customer that doesn’t help anyone, anywhere in situations such as this. Yeah, sure dude, your accelerator stuck.
One thing is for sure, shoddy media whores (and some genuine stupidity from one Transportation Secretary) and the Toyota recall is skewing the way this situation is being viewed, handled and presented.
If anything new develops I’ll post it here.