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AutoGuide’s last installment of “Under the Hood” investigated traction control; today it’s time to look at another safety feature. This one has nothing to do with gripping the road and everything to do with keeping your vehicle shiny-side up.
According to a recent study released by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the federally-mandated electronic stability control (ESC) technology is saving an increasing number of lives each year.
Electronic stability control systems save lives. That’s a fact. And as a result every vehicle now sold in the U.S. comes with a stability control system. But only a fraction of cars sold come with full defeatable ESC – the type that lets you shut off all the electronic nannies and hand the tail end out like you’re filming an episode of Top Gear.
Those days may soon be over, however, thanks to the European New Car Assessment Program, or Euro-NCAP. The overseas safety body, which performs standardized crash testing of vehicles on the continent is currently studying whether to grade automakers on the effectiveness of their ESP systems. Much like how it assigns a star rating to a crash test, the suggested new rules would have the agency rank how significant the engagement of a stability control system is, as well as how early it intervenes. A vehicle with a fully defeatable system could receive a rating of zero.
If this ranking were then integrated into the overall safety score, in order for an automaker to achieve a coveted 5 Star rating, it would have to have as intrusive a stability control system as possible. And if such a system were to be implemented in Europe, how long before it would be mandated here?
Think the idea of a BMW M3 with no DSC-off switch is science fiction? May we remind you, while the Lexus GX460 SUV is no M3, it was the focus of some bad press last year as a result of its ESC program. After testing the vehicle, the editors at Consumer Reports put the luxo-Ute on its “Do Not Buy” list due to rollover concerns as a result of a stability control system that did not engage early enough. Lexus then recalled the SUV, uploaded some new software and won back the favor of CR.
Has it already begun? Do you want to live in a world without fully-defeatable stability control?
[Source: Car & Driver]