Mazda follows Toyota in installing brake override systems
The new technology will give the brakes priority if the accelerator and brake pedals are simultaneously depressed, Mazda spokesman Kotaro Minagawa said here today.
All future vehicles worldwide will be equipped with the technology, Mazda said. Minagawa could not say when the rollout would start or what model would be the first to get the override system.
Mazda, 11 percent owned by Ford Motor Co., described the update as a safety enhancement and said it was not prompted by reports of braking or acceleration problems.
“We are not aware of any malfunctions or instances of runaway Mazda vehicles or related accidents that would necessitate a brake override system,” Minagawa said.
Stung by growing complaints about unintended acceleration in its vehicles, Toyota said last month it would install a similar override system in its new cars worldwide.
Toyota's move came after it recalled more than 8 million cars since last fall to fix floor mat and gas pedal problems that could trigger unwanted acceleration.
Toyota cars were not previously equipped with a brake override system. Critics said the technology could have been an added fail-safe preventing many of the incidents.
Other Japanese automakers
Nissan Motor, held 44 percent by France's Renault, is the only Japanese carmaker that has a function on nearly all of its cars that prioritizes the brakes when both pedals are depressed. This excludes 660cc mini-vehicles sold in Japan under the Nissan badge and cars produced by other automakers on an original equipment manufacturing basis.
Morgan Stanley auto analyst Noriaki Hirakata wrote in a recent report that the cost of installing a brake override system was about $50 a vehicle, adding that it could come down if more brands adopt it.
Honda Motor Co., Suzuki Motor, Mitsubishi Motors, Subaru-maker Fuji Heavy Industries and Toyota unit Daihatsu Motor all said they were considering adopting the system. The timing and scope of the roll-out were still under study, they said.
"I think (it) could eventually become a standard feature, just like airbags or anti-lock brake systems," said Daihatsu spokesman Haruki Mori.
A new requirement?
U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood has said that safety regulators may require all new cars to have braking systems that tell the engine to return to idle when both accelerator and brake pedals are depressed.
Toyota estimates that about one-fifth of vehicles sold in the United States have brake override systems. That includes vehicles sold by Mercedes-Benz, Volkswagen, and Chrysler.
Also, Ford said last month it would update the software of the regenerative braking system on some already-delivered 2010 Ford Fusion Hybrids and Mercury Milan Hybrids. A Ford spokesman said 17,600 Fusion and Milan hybrids would be updated.
Ford said the move was not a recall. Instead, it called the update a “customer satisfaction program” and would notify owners by mail.
Reuters contributed to this report.
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