I, Robot. Brought to You by Toyotaaaa!...

... Over the years I've owned a number of cars. For example, a couple of years ago I was the unhappy owner of a Mercedes-Benz ML. It was the latest model then, but some time had passed since the generation's launch so I told myself it would be bug-free, just the thing for feeling the pleasure and relaxation brought by driving a Mercedes.

The nightmare began from the first days after I bought it. The self-closing trunk had moments when it simply didn't want to open or close. Even if I slammed the hatch as hard as I could, although it appeared to be closed I would be instantly surprised by the car's alarm ringing because of... an open "door". In this case, the luggage compartment's hatch. I also remember a moment when I simply had to take out my suit cases from the trunk through the interior, after previously taking apart the rear seats in order to reach my luggage. All this accompanied by the hysterical laughs from my friends who couldn't understand why my hundred grand car wouldn't open its hatch...

Apart from these "small" issues, the car seemed bullet proof. But obviously, embarrassing visits to the service followed. Just like in a cruel Murphy law, the damn thing was working perfectly whenever I "visited" the service, enough reason for the mechanics to think that I'm crazier than a bag of Angel Dust. When I finally managed to demonstrate the problem, they couldn't find a logical explanation for it to happen, so I was stuck with my brand new car that couldn't open or close its hatch.

Then, one day, the taillights suddenly gave out. Again visits to the service and again the mechanics were surprised to find out that after changing the bulbs all seemed to work just fine. Only for the brake lights to fail a week later. I know... it was my fault for pushing the brake pedal from time to time, so they were probably "worn out". Than the daylight driving lights succumbed, just as strange, without any warning or prior malfunction. In fact, they were sometimes working and sometimes not. Generally, not...

In the end, I got rid of the demanding ML and never regretted it. It became just a hole in my budget, but also a first experience with an "intelligent car with moods."

But soon after that a buddy of mine bought the same model, only a bit newer. Careful, he deleted the self-closing trunk option thinking he'll get rid of similar problems this way. Riiight! His exterior rear view mirrors have "offline" moments now. They remain lifeless, hanging, like the car is so tired it doesn't even have the strength to hold them in a decent position. The door handles, also, break whenever they feel like it, among other little electronic hiccups coming from the "intelligent" on-board computer.

A Mercedes mechanic praised us for being lucky. He said that the S-Klasse was even more prone to these kinds of problems, since the car itself is much more "techy".

I don't know how Mercedes has evolved since then, or what kind of problems German sedan owners are experiencing, but I really wasn't expecting to hear about Toyota. A brand so sure of itself to have so many problems?

What seemed like a rumor transformed into a massive recall and an immense scandal. Instead of dying out after a few weeks, new problems are coming out, which makes the whole thing stranger and stranger.

I can understand, for example, when a BMW is displaying fake errors from the on-board computer. They happen often and they're annoying. I'm sure you also had them. But, hey, at least they're fake! You pay a visit to the service, they reset the computer and you're home free. OK, they're very annoying and BMW should maybe try and take them down a notch or two, but driving a car like that is still totally different and much, much safer than driving a car that accelerates by itself, like Christine.

That is something that's not at all funny and any fan, as zealous as he might be, cannot say that he's satisfied with a company that sells cars like that. And if those problems weren't enough, it seems that the Prius suffers from a similar "disease".

Apparently, at certain cruising speeds, the Prius has a tendency to accelerate without the driver even touching the acceleration pedal, which is enough to give anyone a good scare. The good thing is that at least the brakes seem to work, so the odd automatic sprint can be put to a stop.

In the meantime, Toyota gives another statement, some food is eaten at a press conference and the planet keeps spinning in the same direction.

But, what I really find tragic about what the Japanese brand is confronting with now is something else. I, personally, would never be tempted to buy another Toyota model from now on. So I'm thinking, what are they going to do? How will they step out of this bad and dangerous situation? How will they regain the people's trust? It's hard to say and even more difficult to accomplish.

I'm also curious about the response given by the people who created the "guilty software", at least in the Prius' case. And then, how do we know that not ALL Toyota models are affected by these "bugs"?

How is your "intelligent" car coming along?
If you liked the article, please follow us:  Google News icon Google News Youtube Instagram

Would you like AUTOEVOLUTION to send you notifications?

You will only receive our top stories