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Thursday, January 6, 2011

Opposite Lock - Rants & Raves

Toyota has been trying to repair their public image ever since that whole driving into a wall accidentally scandal.  Lately, these kinds of commercials have been popping up to bolster that goody-goody joy joy feeling inside us all.  I'll let you know what I think about it after the jump and you can voice your opinion in the comments below.



Let's get right to it.  I think this commercial is utter garbage, plain and simple.  If we walk through the basics of a roller coaster in nerd terms, it goes something like this.  The cart is brought to a certain height through the use of mechanical work to increase its potential energy due to gravity.  Then , it's released from that height and all the potential energy is turned into kinetic energy.  Up and down it goes, trading potential and kinetic energy back and forth until the brakes are applied once it returns to the station to park.

As we all learned in physics during our high school years, energy can neither be created nor destroyed but changed from one form to another.  The potential/kinetic energy transfer in this situation would only be ideal in a frictionless vacuum.  This means that the cart would be able to return to the same height if there was no friction between it and the rails and there was absolutely no wind resistance.  Well I'm about to let you in on a little secret, Toyota.  The real world has air and friction exists between two materials, too.  Sorry!

Want me to explain it again with those two factors?  Ok, here goes.  A motor of some sort, which itself isn't 100% efficient, pulls the cart up the first, biggest hill.  It's released at the top and as the speed increases so does the friction of the cart passing through the air.  Meanwhile under the cart, the wheels are losing energy to friction between it and the rail and most likely in the wheels' bearings too.  The ups and downs are still there but each one is smaller than the last.  Finally, as the cart comes back into the station, there's only a fraction of the original potential energy left in the form of kinetic energy and poof!  Most of that energy just turned into heat as the brakes were applied.  Whatever energy was captured in that brake application can be redistributed to the motor that pulls the cart up the big hill.  Oh yeah!  There's electrical resistance too...

What does all this mean?  It would seem that Toyota is in a bad spot right now.  The biggest recall in history was their fault last year and has resulted in Ford, who was on the brink of extinction, to gain accolades from Consumer Reports for customer perception.  The biggest Japanese company in the world built their reputation on the buying public's focus on reliability, practicality, and safety.  All those have gone out the window with Wide Open Throttle Gate.  So they look to save the world in other ways with these side projects that supposedly use Toyota technology.  Get back to making cars for people who actually love cars and this smoke show isn't necessary.  If somebody can truly love what they drive, nobody has to justify what they drive with the ancillary world saving technology behind it.

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