The Road Ahead : February March 2008
FEB/MAR 08 7 Across all vehicle types, ESC lessens the risk of injur y by 32 percent. The study, commissioned by 13 state and federal road agencies and automobile clubs (including RACQ), was the first to analyse the 'real world' per formance of ESC systems. The 2007 study probed the crash patterns of ESC- equipped vehicles in Australia and New Zealand between 2001 and 2005, and compared them with vehicles without ESC that crashed during the same period. MUARC investigated some 7700 crashes involving 90 different models, making it the broadest study of ESC-fitted vehicles to date. However, the effect of ESC on multiple vehicle crashes was not clear from the study's preliminar y analysis. How does ESC work? Essentially the vehicle's electronic control unit compares information from wheel speed sensors, a yaw-rate sensor and a steering wheel angle sensor with the car's actual trajector y. If it detects a potential loss of control, it can react within milliseconds to brake individual wheels and correct the path of the vehicle. ESC can also reduce engine power to help maintain control. While it is acknowledged that ESC systems will not always be able to stop a crash, they can reduce the severity. The Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries estimated that, as at the end of June last year, around 35 percent of all new Australian vehicles were fitted with ESC, as par t of the standard equipment list. Those figures included 31 percent of cars and 48 percent of all new SUVs. However, ESC is rarely standard fitment in the light and small car sectors or the compact and large 4WD categories. Estimated American production costs for ESC are around US$111 (A$131) and European obser vers price it at around 130 Euros (A$213). It generally options in Australia for around $1000. The MUARC study findings have renewed calls on vehicle manufacturers to fit ESC to all vehicles sold in Australia. RACQ's executive manager vehicle technologies Steve Spalding said consumers should note whether the car they are considering buying had ESC as standard or available as an option. "The RACQ wants ESC standard on vehicles but if offered optionally, it must be affordable, available across a model range and not linked to non-safety items," Mr Spalding said. "It is impor tant to note that ESC cannot be retro fitted. It needs to come with the vehicle when it is new. "Motorists also need to value the impor tance of ESC. To date, safety items have generally had poor take-up rates with buyers preferring comfor t and luxur y options." Owners of ESC-equipped vehicles are adamant about the value of the device, according to a blog site conducted by the RACQ's NSW associated motoring organisation, the NRMA. A dozen testimonials to ESC were received in just one week. RACQ's Technical Advisors can of fer members free advice on choosing the right safety features when shopping for a new car. They can be contacted direct on 3666 9148. WHAT'S IN A NAME? ESC goes under several acronyms, but all these systems operate on the same principle. • ESP: Electronic Stability/Stabilisation Program. • ESC: Electronic Stability Control. • DSC: Dynamic Stability Control. • VDC: Vehicle Dynamics Control. • VSC: Vehicle Stability/Swerve Control. • ASC: Active Stability Control. • VSA: Vehicle Stability Assist. HOW DID IT COME ABOUT? Bosch, Mercedes-Benz, Continental Automotive Systems, Delphi and TRW introduced ESC to the mass market. Bosch and Mercedes-Benz developed the first ESC system for the flagship S-Class sedan. Mercedes-Benz became the first manufacturer to make ESC standard across its model range in 1999 and licensed it for use by other vehicle manufacturers at no cost.
December January 2008
April May 2008