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GM Will Add Brake Override to All Automatic Transmission Cars by 2012

Posted: Apr 06, 2010 10:48 a.m.

General Motors is the latest automaker to announce its intention to add brake override systems to nearly all of its cars, in the wake of the Toyota sudden acceleration scandal.

Kicking Tires reports, “GM joins Mazda as automakers who recently decided to make brake override software standard across all models. GM says all of its vehicles will have ‘enhanced smart pedal’ technology by the end of 2012.”  GM, KT notes, “doesn’t have the same history of unintended acceleration as Toyota,” but “the additional safeguard comes as consumers become especially aware of that issue.” Chrysler, Mercedes-Benz, and Nissan also include a brake override system on almost all of their vehicles.  Several other automakers include the system on a handful of cars.

Brake override, sometimes called “smart pedal” technology, is a simply safety system that ensures that, if the brake and accelerator pedal are both depressed at the same time, only the brake pedal works. 

GM’s solution will essentially be a software fix.  Edmunds Inside Line explains, “GM's ‘enhanced smart pedal’ technology includes modification of existing vehicle software and electronic controls to reduce power to the engine when the throttle and brake are pressed at the same time.”

The technology will not be added to cars with manual transmissions.  The AFP notes, “Brake override systems are not necessary in vehicles with manual transmission because power to the engine can be cut off with the clutch.”  There are also several driving techniques used with manual transmissions in certain unique driving situations, such as off-road rock-crawling and the “heel-and-toe” downshifts used in some motorsports, that require pressing both the accelerator and brake at the same time.

Nine GM vehicles already feature the system.  The Detroit Free Press reports, “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.”

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