Braking news: the Toyota feeding frenzy

I’ve had two Toyota Prius cars so far and they’re easily the best cars I’ve ever owned (and I’ve had a lot of reputable automobiles in my time, including a Jaguar MK II, several Volkswagens and about five of those oh-so-sensible Swedish makes), so I’m a bit puzzled by the media firestorm about the recalls. Of course it’s a PR disaster for the company — and I’m sure they’ve handled it badly. (They could learn a thing or two from the way Amazon handled the Orwell-deletions on the Kindle, for example.)

As far as the sticky-accelerator problem is concerned, I can’t see why it should be much of a threat to any competent driver. As an 18-year-old learner-driver said to me the other day, “why don’t people just put the car into neutral, switch off the engine and coast to a halt?” So is this firestorm a symptom of headless-chicken hysteria, or am I missing something?

The Guardian has made a valiant attempt to explain the Prius braking ‘problem’ in today’s issue. Having run the animation it occurs to me that some of the scandalised Prius owners who’ve been talking to the media may not have used an ABS system before. At any rate, the ABS on my Prius behaves exactly as the ABS on the Saabs I owned before switching to Toyota — and I remember being disconcerted when I first braked in an ABS-enabled car.

Thanks to Kevin Cryan for the Guardian link.