Automakers are moving slowly on widespread fitment of crash prevention technology that regulators say could prevent thousands of deaths and injuries every year, a media report said.
Reuters said most automakers are not rushing to make automatic brake systems part of the base cost of mainstream vehicles sold in the competitive US. The industry has come under pressure from regulators, lawmakers and safety advocates to adopt the technology which can slow or stop a vehicle even if the driver fails to act.
Nissan's US unit announced on Thursday (8 June) it was making Automatic Emergency Braking (AEB) standard on a projected 1m vehicles sold in the US for model year 2018, including seven of the company's most popular models – Rogue/Rogue Sport, Altima, Murano, Leaf, Pathfinder, Maxima and Sentra (except manual transmission-equipped and all NISMO versions).
Nissan sold about 1.6m vehicles in the US last year, the news agency report noted.
Toyota has said it will make automatic emergency braking standard on nearly all its US models by the end of this year.
So far, only about 17% of models tested by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety offered standard collision avoiding braking, according to data supplied to Reuters by the auto safety research group backed by the insurance industry. Many of the models with standard AEB systems are luxury vehicles made by European or Japanese manufacturers.
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The systems require more sensors and software than conventional brakes and automakers said they need time to engineer the systems into vehicles as part of more comprehensive makeovers.
Last year, 20 automakers reached a voluntary agreement with US auto safety regulators to make collision-avoiding braking systems standard equipment by 2022, Reuters said.
Safety advocates have petitioned the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to begin a regulatory process to require the technologies but the agency has said the voluntary agreement will result in faster deployment than a formal rule-making process. NHTSA says the technology could eliminate 20% of crashes.
"Do the math. That's 5m crashes every year – 20% reduction means 1 million less. Those are big numbers," Mark Rosekind, the NHTSA's then-administrator, told Reuters last year.
But customers would likely experience the benefits of the technology infrequently. The technology to enable a car to drive itself is far more costly but industry executives foresee autonomous vehicles driving revenue-generating transportation services that could be attractive to investors.
General Motors offers automatic braking as optional equipment on about two-thirds of its models. The company did not tell Reuters how many vehicles have the technology as standard equipment and has not made public its plans to make the technology standard across its lineup.
"Any time you have a voluntary agreement you have a spectrum of implementation," Jeff Boyer, GM's vice president for safety, told Reuters earlier this week. Asked when GM would roll out standard automatic braking, Boyer said, "let's just say we honour the voluntary commitment."
Ford "has a plan to standardise over time," the company told Reuters in a statement. Currently, automatic braking systems are optional on several 2017 Ford and Lincoln models, and will be offered on certain 2018 models including the best-selling F-150 pickup truck.
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles offers automatic braking as optional equipment in nine model lines, using cameras and radar to detect hazards ahead. The company has said it will meet the 2022 target for making the systems standard, Reuters added.
As 2018 models roll out during the second half of this year, more vehicles will offer automatic braking, Dean McConnell, an executive with Continental 's North American business told the news agency. Continental's automatic braking technology systems will be on certain Nissan models.
"We see it accelerating," he said. "It varies. There are some (automakers) that are being aggressive" and others that are waiting.
Continental and Robert Bosch will supply its AEB systems, Nissan told Reuters.