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Old is new again: Will a floor-hinged throttle pedal be in your future?

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Old is new again: Will a floor-hinged throttle pedal be in your future?

By ROGER HART

The pedal set on a classic Volkswagen Beetle was hinged on the car's floorboard. Floor-hinged pedals are in tune with the natural motion of your foot.

If you think that every little nut, bolt, switch, gear or widget in your new car wasn't scrutinized by a team of highly educated, overworked car geeks (read: engineers), think again.

A couple of recent conversations with automotive engineers confirmed that virtually nothing that goes into a car today is taken for granted.

During the recent Pebble Beach weekend, I had the pleasure of spending time with an engineer for Jaguar, and the subject turned to materials used for various switches in the cabin. He said Jag chose not to use a particular finish that a competitor was using because it failed Jag's durability tests. Those tests included, among other things, subjecting the switch repeatedly to perspiration, gasoline and sunscreen, among other stuff. Seems the finish on the switch in question didn't hold up when repeatedly exposed to those substances, as it could be during the life of the car.

You wouldn't want to drop $80,000 on a new XJ and, after a trip to the beach and a stop for fuel that resulted in a spill on your hands, have the markings on the AC controls disappearing. No, that would not be good.

Engineers have to constantly look at performance of the parts versus cost, as well. Not always an easy balance.

Another revelation came last week, while driving two Mazda prototypes in Germany. The cars were right-hand-drive engineering test mules using the next-generation Mazda 6 underpinnings wrapped in today's Mazda 6 sheetmetal. What we were primarily interested in were the two powertrains: Sky-G, a 2.0-liter gasoline engine, and Sky-D, a 2.2-liter diesel, along with Sky-Drive, a new six-speed automatic transmission.

Mazda engineers fit into the Sky-G cars a floor-hinged throttle pedal. Now, floor-hinged pedals are not a new invention--my dad's 1955 Dodge truck had them, as did a slew of farm equipment I've driven (I grew up working on a farm), not to mention early Volkswagen Beetles and a long line of Porsches, among many others.

Mazda is considering using floor-hinged pedals in future products, and the engineer riding shotgun wanted to get feedback on how I liked it.

Well, I did like it. Floor-hinged pedals make sense ergonomically. When you rock your foot forward pivoting on your heel, a floor-hinged pedal moves in the same plane of motion as your foot and becomes a natural extension of your foot and leg.

According to my engineer friend, floor-hinged pedals reduce foot fatigue. In our relatively short test drive, I couldn't confirm it, but it would seem to make sense. You don't have to hover your foot on a pedal hanging from the dash.

My guess is that floor-hinged pedals went away because, well, in the old days, a mechanical link was needed between the pedal and the carburetor (remember when those were on cars and trucks?) and that meant having a hole in the floor for the linkage. Holes in the floor, much like holes in the roof, allow for all sorts of bad things to happen. No matter how well it is sealed, water, snow, dirt and other stuff eventually will get in the hole, causing problems.

But with the advent of electronics, the throttle pedal is connected to a rheostat, converting throttle pressure into an electrical pulse sent by a wire to the engine management system that results in more or less fuel being delivered to the engine, depending on foot placement. No need for a big hole in floor.

Floor-hinged pedals are not a revelation--the adage about there being no real new ideas comes to mind. But this is another example of engineers not taking for granted even the most basic things in a car, like how the gas pedal operates.

And one wonders, would a floor-hinged pedal would be less likely to have unintended-acceleration issues because of thick, misplaced floor mats? Hey, it's just a thought.

Read more: http://www.autoweek.com/article/20100902/CARNEWS/100909977#ixzz0yO6FCdqP

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Wow....

My guess is that floor-hinged pedals went away because, well, in the old days, a mechanical link was needed between the pedal and the carburetor (remember when those were on cars and trucks?) and that meant having a hole in the floor for the linkage. Holes in the floor, much like holes in the roof, allow for all sorts of bad things to happen. No matter how well it is sealed, water, snow, dirt and other stuff eventually will get in the hole, causing problems.

just... wow..

Perhaps you should go back to covering local gossip instead of being an auto journalist...

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>>"...floor-hinged pedals are not a new invention--my dad's 1955 Dodge truck had them, as did a slew of farm equipment I've driven (I grew up working on a farm), not to mention early Volkswagen Beetles and a long line of Porsches, among many others."<<

Porsches in this regard are inconsequential. General Motors had floor-hinged pedals for a lo-ooong time. The B-59 has one, so does my '64, so does '57 Pontiac, etc etc etc etc. I can damn well guarantee you ChryCos & FoMoCos had them for decades, too. They were the norm.

>>"My guess is that floor-hinged pedals went away because, well, in the old days, a mechanical link was needed between the pedal and the carburetor (remember when those were on cars and trucks?) and that meant having a hole in the floor for the linkage. Holes in the floor, much like holes in the roof, allow for all sorts of bad things to happen. No matter how well it is sealed, water, snow, dirt and other stuff eventually will get in the hole, causing problems."<<

Like Olds said- what a laugh riot. Might as well say that it was to keep radiation seepage or poisonous snakes out. What's the "other stuff" - anthrax ?? Journalism is truly dead.

Clearly and without a doubt, the floor-hinged pedal was discontinued for one, and one reason only- it was cheaper to injection-mold a 3" pedal at hook it to an arm, than mold a 12" pedal, hook it to an arm AND secure it to the floor with 2 screws or the like. The B-59 has 2 ball studs that thread into the floor, and the pedal is molded to snap down over them. You climb into a $365K Bentley, and it has a tiny, 3-4" black plastic gas pedal- the same sh!tty junk as in a corolla.

>>"According to my engineer friend, floor-hinged pedals reduce foot fatigue. "<<

LOL - we were told the exact opposite when suspended pedals came out; that there was more room to wiggle & pivot your foot, reducing fatigue. I remember that distinctly. Engineers are not much better than journalists anymore.

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+1

>>"My guess is that floor-hinged pedals went away because, well, in the old days, a mechanical link was needed between the pedal and the carburetor (remember when those were on cars and trucks?) and that meant having a hole in the floor for the linkage. Holes in the floor, much like holes in the roof, allow for all sorts of bad things to happen. No matter how well it is sealed, water, snow, dirt and other stuff eventually will get in the hole, causing problems."<<

Like Olds said- what a laugh riot. Might as well say that it was to keep radiation seepage or poisonous snakes out. What's the "other stuff" - anthrax ?? Journalism is truly dead.

Not only that... but you need a hole regardless of pedal type. That hole... to go along with the other 54 holes in the firewall and 125 holes in the car's body.

Clearly and without a doubt, the floor-hinged pedal was discontinued for one, and one reason only- it was cheaper to injection-mold a 3" pedal at hook it to an arm, than mold a 12" pedal, hook it to an arm AND secure it to the floor with 2 screws or the like. The B-59 has 2 ball studs that thread into the floor, and the pedal is molded to snap down over them. You climb into a $365K Bentley, and it has a tiny, 3-4" black plastic gas pedal- the same sh!tty junk as in a corolla.

I imagine it make it easier to install the carpet, as well.

Edited by SAmadei

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My '81 Toronado (and my '85 from years ago) both have floor mounted gas pedals. There was no hole in the floor for the throttle linkage... it connects to an arm hanging from under the dash just like any car today.

And yes... it feels much nicer under your foot... enough so that I've toyed with the idea of trying to rig something up for the CR-V

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My sister's '84 Merc 500SEL has a pedal that is both floor hinged and has a bar at the top going through the firewall. Never looked at the one in the '91 300CE. The only place I've encountered a pure floor hinged design is in Porsches.

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