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Lexus Shows Active Safety Research Vehicle at CES

Taking a “holistic” view of safety technology.

by on Jan.07, 2013

The Lexus AASRV safety research vehicle.

It can spot a potential problem 500 feet away and tell the difference between a red and green light. It can anticipate a corner even before the driver turns the steering wheel. It’s designed to prevent a crash but can also make it easier to survive a collision even as it automatically calls for help.

Toyota’s Lexus luxury brand is giving the public a first look at its advanced active safety research vehicle at the annual Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this week. Also known as the AASRV, it is designed to test and demonstrate a variety of automated vehicle safety technologies that could be used in production vehicles in the not-too-distant future, according to Toyota officials.

But unlike some prototypes, the AASRV is not designed to operate with complete autonomy. Mark Templin, the general manager of the Lexus brand, stressed that the goal is to engage and enhance a driver’s skills, rather than to turn motoring into a fully automated activity.

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“In our pursuit of developing more advanced automated technologies, we believe the driver must be fully engaged,” explained Templin. “For Toyota and Lexus, a driverless car is just a part of the story. Our vision is a car equipped with an intelligent, always-attentive co-pilot whose skills contribute to safer driving.”


Lexus Facing New Unintended Acceleration Recall

Two RX crossovers targeted for “floor mat entrapment.”

by on Jun.29, 2012

Lexus will recall nearly 150,000 RX models due to an unintended acceleration-related problem.

Having hoped to put its embarrassing unintended acceleration scandal behind it, Lexus is now recalling two more models due to the possibility loose floor mats could cause accelerator pedals to jam, leading the vehicles to surge out of control.

The two models covered by the latest recall are the Lexus RX 350 and RX 450h hybrid, with a total of nearly 134,000 vehicles involved.  The new service actions are relatively modest when compared to the millions of vehicles covered by earlier sudden acceleration problems, but the latest recall puts Toyota back into the spotlight after having spent the last several years trying to rebuild its reputation for high quality and reliability.

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“It was just beginning to fade from people’s memories,” said analyst Rebecca Lindland, of IHS Automotive.  “This is like scratching an old wound.”

Arguably the worst public relations crisis in Toyota Motor Co. history began in mid-2009 when a California Highway Patrol officer and several family members were killed when a Lexus they had borrowed surged out of control, plunging off a highway and bursting into flames.


Toyota Reportedly Readying Fix for Lexus GX460

Multiple fixes may be needed; other Lexus utes under study.

by on Apr.15, 2010

Toyota may soon have a fix ready for the troubled Lexus GX460 SUV.

Just days after putting a temporary halt to sales of its Lexus GX460 due to safety concerns, Toyota is reportedly readying a technical fix to overcome a potential rollover problem with the sport-utility vehicle, say reports from Japan.

The latest in a seemingly endless series of safety problems involving the various divisions of the Japanese maker turned up earlier this week when Consumer Reports magazine announced that it was issuing a “Don’t Buy” warning for the new, 2010 GX460.  The non-profit magazine had discovered, during testing, that the SUV might be prone to rolling over under certain conditions.

Toyota, which is facing a record government fine for failing to disclose other safety problems in a timely manner, responded by halting sales and reaching out to the 5,400 owners who’d already purchased a GX since its introduction.

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Now, reports Japan’s Nikkei Daily, Toyota is reportedly working up a fix that will, first and foremost, address the vehicle’s electronic stability control system, along with work on “other (unspecified) aspects of the vehicle.”


Japanese Stop Sales of 2010 Lexus GX460

Consumer Reports slams new SUV, saying it’s rollover prone.

by on Apr.13, 2010

More serious safety questions are now raised at Toyota's luxury division.

The Japan-based leadership of beleaguered Toyota Motor Sales late today gave an American sales executive permission to suspend sales of the new 2010 Lexus GX460 model. Another  safety recall or service action is now a distinct possibility.

The latest crisis at Toyota came after Consumer Reports issued a safety warning earlier.

Consumer Reports, a long time proponent – critics say cheerleader – of Toyota’s quality,  issued a rare “Don’t Buy: Safety Risk” recommendation. (See Consumers Union Defends Role in Missing Toyota Unintended Acceleration Problems and Deaths)

The last time Consumer Reports issued a “Don’t Buy” was for the 2001 Mitsubishi Montero Limited.

The Lexus GX460, the magazine claimed, was the worst, in terms of rollover potential among the 95 SUVs in its current automotive ratings.

The problem, apparently, concerns “trailing throttle oversteer,” or the tendency of the Lexus to have the rear end swing wide in a turn if the driver lifts off the accelerator pedal. This points the front of the SUV toward the inside of the turn. Uncorrected by either the driver or electronic controls, the SUV could hit the curb, creating a trip rollover.

As Consumer Report describes it, the electronic stability (yaw control) system of the Lexus does not intervene quickly enough, exactly the opposite calibration issue that Toyota engineering faced with the now  recalled regenerative braking system of the 2010 Prius. In that instance, the electronic controls were too aggressive in its application. Either way, Toyota’s ability to integrate electronics into its vehicles is once again called into question. And another safety recall or service action looms.

Consumer Reports said it validated its rollover warning by testing two Lexus GX460 models, with each repeating the problem, though neither rolled over. The magazine hedged, though, saying that it is not aware of any specific reports of GX rollovers in the real world.


Consumer Reports Issues Rare “Don’t Buy” on Lexus GX460

Warns of rollover risk; gives another black eye to Toyota.

by on Apr.13, 2010

The Lexus GX460 has received an extremely rare "Don't Buy" warning from the influential Consumer Reports magazine.

The influential Consumer Reports magazine has issued an extremely rare “Don’t Buy” warning on the new Lexus GX460 sport-utility vehicle, noting that the luxury SUV could be prone to rolling over.

The warning is rare enough for the magazine but even more so for Lexus and its sibling Toyota and Scion brands, which have routinely received “Best Buy” ratings from the non-profit organization.  The news thus comes as another black eye for the Japanese maker which, as has reported, is facing a record $16.4 million fine from the government for allegedly hiding information about safety defects.

Consumer Reports noted that during handling tests performed on the Lexus GX460 the vehicle was prone to become unstable under certain circumstances.

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Specifically, a test driver approaches a turn too fast and releases the accelerator pedal, something real world motorists are prone to do.  This normally will lead the rear of a vehicle to slide.  But on other vehicles, the stability control system kicks in and helps keep the vehicle under control.  With the GX460, however, that didn’t happen in time, leading to a rollover risk.