Correcting the Record on NA Luxury Brand ESC Implementation

October 23, 2009 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Mark Arndt, News 

By Mark W. Arndt

2003 ExemplarThe North American (NA) implementation of Electronic Stability Control was detailed in the 2008 Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) paper “Industry Implementation of Automotive Electronic Stability Control (ESC) Systems,” by Nicholas Durisek and Kevan Granat of Dynamic Analysis Group LLC.  The Paper compares the luxury vehicle brands Mercedes, BMW and Lexus/Toyota and draws conclusions based upon this comparison.  The problem is that Lexus/Toyota is two different brands owned by one manufacture and only Lexus is a luxury brand.

Automotive News Data records, in 2002 Toyota sold 1,756,127 vehicles in the United States; Lexus accounted for 234,109 sales.  Also in 2002, the BMW division of the BMW group sold 232,032 vehicles and Mercedes sold 213,225 vehicles.

Comparing Mercedes, BMW and only Lexus passenger cars reveals a disturbing and diverging trend in ESC as standard equipment implementation rates beginning in 1998.  Mercedes and BMW were essentially at zero implementation prior to 1998 and 100% implementation for 2000 and on, while Lexus using yearly sales recorded in Automotive News Data had ESC implemented as standard equipment in its passenger cars at the rate of 43% in 2000, 40% in 2001, 39% in 2002 and 37% in 2003. Mercedes and BMW saw the value of ESC and quickly implemented the technology in their entire North American fleet.  Lexus missed the opportunity of ESC and delayed full standardized implementation by at least 8 years.

Comparing Mercedes, BMW and only Lexus, instead of Lexus and Toyota together, reflects a Toyota marketing strategy that left many Lexus owners with far inferior vehicles when it came to the benefits of ESC.  ESC has been described as providing safety benefit second only to seatbelts.  The underlying technology of using individual wheel brake application intervention when drivers lose control of their vehicles began development at Bosch in the late 1980s and was first commercialized in their home countries by Toyota and Mercedes in 1995.

According to Durisek and Granat, “Mercedes’ implementation included less than 2000 vehicles for each of the first three years an ESC system was offered, 1996 through 1998. Those units amounted to less than 2% of the total number of vehicles sold by Mercedes. By model year 2000, Mercedes equipped all models with an ESC system as standard equipment except the SLK. An ESC system was not available on the SLK until 2001…. Implementation by BMW similarly began with relatively low volumes in 1998 and was increased to 100% by model year 2001…. Toyota’s North American implementation of ESC systems as standard equipment began with its Lexus brand in 1998 and included over 50,000 units, more than any other manufacturer for that model year. In model year 2006, the number of Toyota vehicles with an ESC system as standard equipment was over 640,000 units, more than double the number of units sold by Mercedes or BMW.”

Durisek and Granat concluded, “The phase-in of ESC system technology by lower volume manufacturers (i.e. luxury brands) took five to six years before having 100% ESC system implementation into their vehicle lines.”  However, according to the Durisek and Granat data, BMW’s North American implementation of ESC as standard equipment took four years with over 95% implementation in three years (by 2000).  Mercedes’ implementation of ESC as standard equipment took six years with almost 95% implementation in five years (by 2000).  Mercedes had less than 2% implementation in 1998, almost 95% standard equipment implementation in 2000 and in 2001 was at 100% implementation.  Not to ignore the importance of full implementation, but Mercedes went from essentially zero to almost complete in two years.  For both BMW and Mercedes the final standard implementation of ESC was on a single model with low production.  Lexus began implementation in 1998, and completed implementation of ESC as standard equipment in 2007, a full ten years.  The last Lexus model with ESC standard was its highest production volume ES line which in 2002, according to the Automotive News Data, accounted for 71,450 Lexus sales – almost half of all Lexus passenger cars sold in 2002.

AAAM’s 53rd Annual Conference: Highlights of Day Two and Three

October 15, 2009 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Mark Arndt, News 

By Mark W. Arndt

IMG_0242The Association for the Advancement of Automotive Medicine (AAAM) held its 53rd Annual Conference in Baltimore, Maryland from October 4th through October 7th, 2009.  Highlights of Tuesday and Wednesday sessions included: a special session on Pre-Crash Technology moderated by Jim Fell of the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation (PIRE), a keynote speech by Dr. Thomas M. Scalea, MD, FACS Physician-in-Chief of the University of Maryland R. Adam Cowley Shock Trauma Center and a presentation by Ted Miller, Ph.D. from PIRE titled Cost of Crashes Related to Road Conditions.

The special session on pre-crash technology included the presentations:

  1. An Overview of NHTSA Research on Advanced Crash Avoidance Technologies by Ray Resendes Chief, Intelligent Technologies Research, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) included an interesting reference to General Motors’ 1939 World Fair Exhibit which is described by a two-part You Tube video.  The substance of the presentation listed an array of state of the art technology including: Electronic Stability Control (ESC, 100% phase-in pursuant to FMVSS126 by 2012), adaptive cruise control (first in Japan in 1998), forward collision warning, forward collision avoidance and mitigation (set for a 2011 rulemaking decision), blind spot detection, lane departure warning, lane departure prevention (set for a 2001 rulemaking decision), crossing path detection (a backup sensor), fatigue detection, night vision assistance (around for about 10-years), automatic alcohol detection, crash notification and vehicle to vehicle communication (set for rulemaking decision in 2013).
  2. The Latest in Crash Avoidance Vehicle Technology by Brian Fildes, PhD, Associate Director, Monash University Accident Research Centre – Europe, Prato, Italy presented results of the TRACE Report, a 2007 European project that identified 140 new safety technologies.  Dr. Fields noted that it was possible that the report was already obsolete given the pace of commercial implementation and technological development of pre-crash technologies. 
  3. Crash Avoidance Technologies – Acceptance and Early Estimates of Effects by Adrian Lund, PhD, President, Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) began his presentation with a summation of 50 years of crashworthiness improvement showing the IIHS recent test of a 1959 Chevrolet Bel Air and a 2009 Chevrolet Malibu in a 40 mph frontal offset crash test.  The test is a reflection of how improving the compartment has improved motor vehicle safety.  Dr. Lund made a special note that motorcycle Anti-Lock Brake Systems (ABS) appears to reduce the chance of a fatal motorcycle crash by 30%; he noted that motorcycle ABS is like ESC for cars.  The bulk of the presentation dealt with the IIHS analysis of driver perception and acceptance of Volvo’s pre-crash technologies; noteing that it appeared that most people seemed to like the prevention systems they had in their Volvo cars.

Dr Thomas M. Scalea keynote speech provided a compelling argument for the kind of trauma system used in Maryland.  Examples were provided that illustrated treatment improvements that occurred because of the trauma system concentrates critical injuries at level 1 trauma centers.  Dr Scalea’s talk was titled From Trauma Centers to Trauma Systems.  The Maryland program encompasses 70 physicians from seven different academic departments in the University of Maryland, Baltimore. The nearly 100 bed trauma hospital employs over 300 nurses and a total staff of 450 people.  This year the shock trauma will admit over 7700 patients.

Ted Millers presentation of the paper he co-authored with Eduard Zaloshnja, Ph.D was titled Cost of Crashes Related to Road Conditions, United States, 2006.  According to the abstract the paper is the first study to estimate the cost of crashes related to road conditions in the U.S. The study used 2000-03 Large Truck Crash Causation Study (LTCCS) data and applied logistic regression results to calculate the probability that road conditions contributed to the involvement of a vehicle in each crash.  Dr Miller indicated that the estimated comprehensive cost of traffic crashes where road conditions contributed to crash occurrence or severity was $217.5 billion in 2006 and concludes with the observation that road conditions are largely controllable and that road maintenance and upgrading can prevent crashes and reduce injury severity.  The study is particularly interesting in light of recent emphasis of the car as the nexus of pre-crash intervention technology.  Elimination of crashes will require the proper emphasis of driver, environment and vehicles and the present study underlines the importance of the driving environment in the crash prevention matrix.

Welcome to the Transport Safety Technologies Blog!

August 24, 2009 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: Mark Arndt 

This web log is dedicated to discussions concerning public safety. My belief and, by extension, my work is focused on accident prevention and transportation safety. The best way to prevent injury is to prevent the accident.

Building vehicles with protective guards is not as good as building vehicles with preventive guards. I believe more time, attention, and education spent on designing and building vehicles that act and/or react in a way that prevents harm to its occupants is ideal.