NINETY EIGHT REGENCY

How Congress is Designing Your Next Car

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How Congress is Designing Your Next Car

Sean Tucker July 23rd, 2010

The auto industry won a major victory in Congress this week, when the landmark financial bill passed by both houses on Congress excluded auto dealers from regulation -- so Congress can't stop them from taking a kickback for funneling you toward a particular lender, or marking up a loan to a higher rate than the lender is offering and pocketing the difference.

But Congress is still discussing cars, and before they adjourn for their August recess, your Senators and Representatives may have done a lot to redesign your next car. Congress is debating a major overhaul of auto safety legislation. Among the changes we may see:

Standardized Automatic Transmission Shift Gates -- In a Toyota, the automatic transmission shifter moves back and forward. In a Jaguar, it moves in a J pattern. In a Mazda, a reverse J. Legislation under consideration now would require simpler systems, that all follow the same pattern.

Mandatory Brake Override -- Brake override is a simple safety device that ensures that, if both pedals are pressed, only the brake pedal works. It's designed to prevent the sort of uncontrolled acceleration that investigators believe may have contributed to as many as 57 deaths in Toyotas, which don't have a brake override system. Many cars, including those built by Nissan and Mercedes-Benz, already use the system. Other automakers, including Toyota and GM, are in the process of adding it to all cars. Automakers don't oppose this portion of the legislation, since most of them are already adding the system.

Mandatory "Black Box" Data Recorders -- In the aftermath of the Toyota sudden acceleration scandal, media attention focused on so-called "black boxes," or Event Data Recorders, that track how your car is driven, and may record vital data to help investigators reconstruct an accident. Today, some cars have them. Some cars don't. And those that have them differ widely -- from catch-all recorders that collect mountains of data to tiny devices that record little more than a few minutes' worth of information. The legislation being debated now would mandate them, and set minimum levels of information they must track.

The auto industry, however, opposes the move. Industry lobbyists have already altered the language of this provision. The first draft of the legislation gave them five years to install the boxes in all new cars. The current version? It sets no deadline at all.

Standardized Push-Button Ignition Systems -- In the first accident that triggered the Toyota sudden acceleration scandal, a California Highway Patrol officer and several members of his family were killed when the Lexus they were riding in accelerated out of control. The officer's wife called 911 from the speeding car, and explained that they couldn't figure out how to turn it off. Pressing push-button ignition to turn the car off didn't seem to be working.

In fact, push-button ignitions work differently in all kinds of cars. In a General Motors product, you can tap the button once to cut the engine, even at high speed. In a Toyota, you must hold it for more than three seconds to turn it off, unless the car is in park. The legislation would require buttons to kill the ignition with a tap. Keyed ignitions aren't affected.

Possibly, a Built-In Breathalyzer -- At the request of Mothers Against Drunk Driving, a provision of the bill will provide $60 million to study technologies that prevent drunk driving. The bill doesn't mandate anything more than a study.

link:

http://www.thecarconnection.com/marty-blog/1047265_how-congress-is-designing-your-next-car

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balthazar    2,017

Just another reason to continue stocking up on old Pontiacs...

Absolutely. This sort of sh!t would keep me out of a new car.

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what th...

getting a _ing drivers license should include knowing how to DRIVE,

last time i checked knowing how to brake from speed was part of driving,

"NO, N-O mount of technology can protect a person or anyone who trust them, from their own ignorance and lack of understanding of the physics involved with piloting a two ton automobile."

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loki    286

they'll bill this as a cost saving bill.. "if everything is the same, it'll save money." ..might even be budget neutral! ;) lol!!!

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FAPTurbo    1,096

I think after the whole 'Toyotathon of Death' scandal, push-button start/stop mechanisms should be standardized so drivers will be able to stop their car with only a push. And while I think dictating shift gate design is dumb, they should look at standardizing how tap-shift systems work. For example, BMW's system requires a person to push the gear selector forward to go up a gear, which is very strange, and could be a problem.

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Croc    268

The only one I'm opposed to is the shiftgate design mandate. I also think it has a very low likelihood of passage. All the other proposals mirror technology applications that GM has already adopted, hence they won't change anything for my future purchases.

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balthazar    2,017

Reminds me of the fact that Congree/Gov'mnt was behind an earlier effort to 'standardize' controls, and then it resulted in the elimination of the Chrysler push-button trans. This time they want push-buttons. :wacko:

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Drew Dowdell    5,169

Reminds me of the fact that Congree/Gov'mnt was behind an earlier effort to 'standardize' controls, and then it resulted in the elimination of the Chrysler push-button trans. This time they want push-buttons. :wacko:

It's not that they want push buttons. It's that they want the "emergency off" to be the same in every push button equipped car. I can't blame them for that.

Being a computer nerd. I know that press and hold is the "off no matter what" command, this is what Toyota uses. But if I'm in a BMW, to get the same reaction, I have to press "Start/Stop" 3 times in rapid succession.

I'll note here that I have no idea what the "off no matter what" command in the push button GMs is.

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I still don't see the point in the start buttons. A normal key that you twist works fine.

Edited by Cubical-aka-Moltar

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balthazar    2,017

It's not that they want push buttons. It's that they want the "emergency off" to be the same in every push button equipped car. I can't blame them for that.

Being a computer nerd. I know that press and hold is the "off no matter what" command, this is what Toyota uses. But if I'm in a BMW, to get the same reaction, I have to press "Start/Stop" 3 times in rapid succession.

Understood, and with the sheer volume of computer 'nanniness' in modern cars, I agree that this is prudent for the most part. I just saw a bit of irony, thus: my above post.

But I personally still hate homogenization, esp when mandated by the Gov. You buy a $365K Bentley, and there's the same stupid orange seat belt release buttons that are in a Yaris.

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