Thursday, February 11, 2010

Malpracticing Green Parents

Toyota, the world's top automaker, ran into a *public relations nightmare* a couple of weeks ago with its so-called hybrid car:

And the stock dipped a bit.

Hah! The way I see it...widespread Prius brake failures might result in a, how should I say it?, they may have an *evolutionary benefit*!

The whiny Jeff Jarvis writes:

Including my parents, we own four Toyotas in my family; over time, we’ve probably owned eight or 10. Will we ever buy another? Depends. Depends on whether we can trust the company given its performance lately.

There’s a reason we bought our Toyotas. They are incredibly reliable. I abuse mine, skipping service calls. But — knock wood — I’ve not had any major problems. So even though I don’t much like Toyota design and — as a professor, can no longer afford to pay for that styling with the Lexus brand — I thought I was pretty much stuck buying them forever. Why fix what’s not broken, eh?

But now we find out our Toyotas are broken. We find out that Toyota has known this for too long and done nothing. We call our dealer and get stonewalled about the problem with brakes in the Prius our son drives.

I don't care....anyone who buys their teenage child a Prius is an UNMITIGATED A-HOLE!!!

I remember seeing teenagers in Newton and Brookline, Massachusetts driving around in Prius's that obviously their parents bought for them. All I could think was, 'Man, I really have to get out of this area!'

Sure, beleaguered *taxi-driving* parents should be permitted to buy their teenage children vehicles. But they should be clunkers (read: *cheap*) and safe - like the ginormous Buick my parents procured for my senior year of high school. It only got 9 miles per gallon!

My parents were quite sure that in the event of the inevitable teenage *accident*, that I'd be safer than I would be in a veritable, golf cart - such as today's collapsible Prius. The fact that its brakes may be faulty is almost beside the point.


Taylor Conant said...


Collapsibility is a specifically-designed safety feature... it transfers the force of impact around the entire structure of the vehicle, away from the passenger compartment, where it can be safely dissipated. Rigidity just causes the squishy people inside the car to trade momentum with the dashboard and steering column.

Haven't you heard about the way drunk drivers in accidents come out fine, while their sober victims are all mangled up? It's rigidity vs. collapsibility.

That being said, in a collision of more mass vs. less mass, more mass will usually win which is why a Prius is not ideal if the teenager will be slamming into a lightpole, SUV, etc.

But car on car... collapsibility is key.

CaptiousNut said...

Still a flack for Big Auto, eh?

CaptiousNut said...

But in a serious car accident, don't even the big old clunkers collapse?

Taylor Conant said...


Like the wealthy white guy who believes in free markets and capitalism, I guess I'll never escape my background when sharing conviction, eh?

To your second point, yes. But the collapsibility I am referring to is specific to the architectural engineering of the vehicle. In modern vehicles, especially Toyotas and Hondas, there has been an emphasis on designing vehicles bodies with special "crumple zones" that are designed to give way in the event of an impact and absorb and transfer energy into other areas of the vehicle, vs. old vehicle bodies where the crushing of the vehicle structure was "random" as per where the impact occurred and how the body was designed without much thought for how its structure would crush in a collision. In fact, such thoughtlessness often resulted in areas on the car body that were reinforced for handling/stability purposes but which would, when sustaining an impact, directly transfer energy into the passenger compartment. This was an accident of carelessness and results in greater harm to vehicle passengers.

Imagine getting rammed in the left fender at a 45 degree angle... if the vehicle is designed to be rigid, chances are good that either the fender and wheel area (including relevant suspension) are going to come pushing through the firewall and into the driver area, crushing the driver and either seriously injuring or killing them on impact. That or, if the fender is designed to remain rigid, it might transfer energy to, say, the driver door and roofline and those areas may crush inward and serve as a pivot for the fender and wheel well area.

Now, instead, imagine the same impact on a vehicle with a fender designed to "crumple" strategically. In a light impact, this area just crushes into itself... the vehicle is totalled but energy is dissipated and not transferred through the firewall into the passenger area. Driver is fine. In a high impact, the area crumples, dissipating energy, but also transfers that energy to other parts of the frame and body (as per design), allowing the shockwave to travel, again, around the passenger compartment instead of into it. The chances of survival for the driver and other occupants is enhanced.

That's the idea, anyhow.

I think if you are of smaller mass, you want crumple zones in almost any impact because if you don't have them, you, the driver, are probably going to eject out the windshield or smack the interior of the car so hard you'll splatter inside.

auntulna said...

Speaking of getting rammed...

Get your kid a big-ass car, and watch what they do with it...

Anonymous said...

Yes but with all the other cars collapsing. You're just as well off in something that doesn't collapse. Plus you only need to fix a bumper when you have a big rigid beast instead of a whole front end. Ask me how I know.

CaptiousNut said...

Friends of yours, auntulna?

Only 227 views.

auntulna said...

Uh yep,

I am closely connected to one of the participants. I was informed only afterward, so I'm happy nobody got hurt. It looked like fun though.