PSA/Peugeot-Citroen has introduced an emergency-call function in its cars that it says could save hundreds of lives a year.

According to Automotive News Europe, the free SOS feature is part of PSA's latest satellite navigation system, which is called RT3 on Peugeot cars and Navidrive on Citroen models. It includes a safety button on the dashboard, which, when pressed, connects a car's occupants with a 24-hour call centre.

Other carmakers have offered the emergency-call service as part of their navigation system, but have charged a monthly fee for the service.

PSA is using safety and emissions-reducing features such as particulate filters and stop-start systems to gain a competitive advantage.

PSA passenger car sales in Europe fell 2.6% in the first half of the year, according to ACEA, the European car manufacturers association.

All Citroen cars except the entry-level C2 can be fitted with PSA's navigation system. Nearly all Peugeot cars can have it, including the future 1007 mini.

PSA has sold a combined 23,000 Peugeot and Citroen vehicles with the emergency call function in the last 18 months. It claims to be the world's first automaker to introduce the call service on the mass market.

PSA rival Renault's attempt to launch an emergency call function in its cars failed because car buyers did not want pay extra for the system. General Motors has had a similar problem with its emergency system [called OnStar in the US].