Since 2013, Bosch has been monitoring the installation of driver assistance systems in vehicles to observe trends in the industry. Its analysis, based on new vehicle registration statistics collected by the German Federal Motor Transport Authority for the year 2016 as well as data supplied by business intelligence firm IHS Markit, shows that buyers in Germany and Europe are placing more and more value on having electronic assistants on board.

“There is a clear trend: it will soon be just as natural to have cars fitted with driver assistance systems as it is with a radio and ESP,” said Bosch Board of Management member Dr. Dirk Hoheisel.

The statistics show that parking and lane assist systems, as well as emergency braking systems, are becoming increasingly popular. For example, 62% of new passenger cars registered in Germany in 2016 were equipped with some kind of parking assistance system – ranging from parking beepers to automatic parking assistants.

Next was automatic emergency braking systems that warn drivers or activate the brakes automatically to bring the car to a stop in an emergency (usually when another vehicle or pedestrian is in front). More than one in every three new cars (38%) can help drivers to avoid accidents in this way. For more than a quarter of these vehicles, an emergency braking system is even part of the car’s standard fittings.

Just behind in third place was driver drowsiness detection, fitted in 37% of all new passenger cars. This is an important feature for those who drive long distances as it will suggest to the driver to pull over and take a break. Such systems monitor the way the vehicle is driven and if it keeps shifting left and right and even crossing lanes too often, then the ‘assistant’ will determine that the driver must be getting drowsy and losing concentration.

The three driver assistance systems which are becoming more common in today’s vehicles – park assist, auto-braking and drowsiness monitor.

However, the largest growth was recorded for lane assist systems. Compared with the previous year, there were twice as many of these on board new cars in 2016. Another interesting development was in relation to adaptive cruise control (ACC). Although barely fitted in 4% of newly registered cars in Germany in 2013, by the end of 2016, this function was installed in nearly one in five new cars (19%). It is more advanced than standard cruise control as the set speed can be varied to maintain a safe distance from other vehicles in front. Even more advanced is ACC with Low-Speed Follow which can even bring the car to a stop and resume movement when the vehicle in front starts moving again.

Driver assistance systems help drivers in confusing or critical traffic situations and are an important step on the way to the accident-free and stress-free mobility of the future. If all vehicles in Germany had an automatic emergency braking system, for example, it has been estimated that up to 72% of all rear-end collisions resulting in injury could be prevented.

In the 1980s, airbags were available only with expensive high-end models but today, they are standard even in entry-level models like the Perodua Myvi.

As with many new technologies, adoption is initially slow and confined to more expensive models because of the cost. However, within a few years, the cost begins to fall with economies of scale kicking in and the technology ‘trickles down’ to lower priced models. Past examples would be ABS, airbags and stability control systems; in the 1970s, they were available only on high-end models but today, they can be found as standard even on the lowest priced models in the market.

[Chips Yap]

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