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GM to add brake overrides to new vehicles

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GM to add brake overrides to new vehicles

Robert Snell and David Shepardson / The Detroit News

Detroit -- GM is joining a growing list of automakers adding brake override systems to new vehicles as Congress and federal regulators mull mandating the safeguard.

The decision, announced Monday, comes as automakers move to adopt the safeguard in light of a recall of 8.5 million Toyota Motor Corp. vehicles worldwide over sudden acceleration concerns. Toyota said it would add brake-shift override systems to all vehicles by next year and on most models by the end of this year.

It is difficult to say whether carmakers would provide a redundant backup system if the Toyota recalls hadn't forced the issue, said auto analyst Erich Merkle of in Grand Rapids.

"I have to believe the Toyota situation is probably helping them along," he said.

GM's global rollout of the brake override system won't be completed until the end of 2012; it will be applied to all vehicles with automatic transmissions and electronic throttle control.

GM's system involves modifying electronic controls to reduce power to the engine when a motorist inadvertently depresses the brake and accelerator.

"We know safety is top of mind for consumers, so we are applying additional technology to reassure them that they can count on the brakes in their GM vehicle," said Tom Stephens, GM's vice chairman of global product operations.

Separately, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration announced Monday it has opened a preliminary investigation into 6.2 million GM vehicles for possible corrosion of vehicle brake lines.

NHTSA's investigation includes 6 million 1999-2003 GM pickups and SUVs and 189,000 of the 2003 2500 heavy-duty pickups. The investigation covers all models built -- not those still on the roads -- so the actual number could be lower than 6.2 million.

NHTSA says it has received 110 complaints, including allegations of three crashes. GM spokesman Alan Adler said the company was cooperating.

NHTSA received a March 2 petition seeking an investigation of 2003 Chevrolet Silverado 2500 HD pickups. The petition said the brake line corrosion "led to a large increase in stopping distance and with the brake pedal pushed to the floor."

The complaint said the incident happened after six years of service and under normal driving conditions.

From The Detroit News:


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All GM vehicles to have brake-override by 2012



As greater attention is placed on keeping vehicles safe from unintended acceleration, General Motors announced Monday it is expanding the use of brake-override systems into all its vehicles sold globally by the end of 2012.

Already, nine GM vehicles in the U.S. are sold with the system, said Alan Adler, a GM spokesman.

The system works by reducing power to the engine when the brake and accelerator pedals are depressed at the same time, and a number of automakers, such as Chrysler, already use it in some or all of their cars.

GM said it already uses a braking performance standard in all vehicles that requires a braking vehicle to stop within a specific distance. Adding the brake override to all vehicles is "for additional customer confidence," Adler said.

GM vehicles that have the brake-override system include: Chevrolet Corvette, Camaro V8, Malibu L4, Colorado V8, Cobalt, HHR, GMC Canyon V8, and Cadillac CTS-V and STS-V.

The announcement comes in the wake of controversy at Toyota, where the automaker has recalled 2.3 million vehicles to correct for possible causes of unintended acceleration. The problem has led to a call by some in Washington for the possible mandate of brake-override systems in all new vehicles.

Dan Edmunds,'s director of automotive testing, said he expects other automakers to follow suit.

Companies "are trying to get ahead of the lawyers. If there's a technology that's out there that isn't on a vehicle that may have some mitigating effect on unintended acceleration situations then I think people are going to need to have it," he said.



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