Automakers are ahead of regulators on automatic braking. Nissan joins Toyota in beating a key deadline.
At the dedication ceremony for the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s new test facility in September of 2015, NHTSA chief Mark Rosekind announced that the world’s automakers had agreed to begin offering automatic emergency braking (AEB) standard on cars, crossovers, and trucks by 2022. Rosekind said, “This is a new convention and a new pact. NCAP (New Car Assessment Program) and IIHS programs will continue, and regulations are still available, and we use all paths to save lives. The industry in this case though hasn’t waited for regulation.”
Shortly after the announcement, one automaker saw an opportunity to do the right thing and to also separate itself from the pack regarding safety. Toyota pledged to start immediately adding the systems to its 2017 model-year new vehicles. Following that move, Toyota walked the walk, and now most of Toyota’s new vehicles, like the RAV4 and other top-selling models, have this technology on all trims at no added cost. Toyota has been running advertisements hammering its competitors for not offering the technology on all trims, and for charging extra on the trims that do offer it. Now Nissan has responded.
Nissan has announced that for the 2018 model year, its vehicles will also have the technology. “The big news here is that we’re making AEB standard across all grades of our best-selling models,” said Michael Bunce, vice president, Product Planning, Nissan North America, Inc. “This increased AEB availability is part of our ongoing commitment to help reduce fatalities while realizing our comprehensive vision of Nissan Intelligent Mobility.”
Interestingly, Subaru, Toyota, and Nissan are out in front of the luxury brands on this technology. BestRide has tested models from premium brands this year that did not have the systems, yet base models costing less than $20K from Toyota did come with it. And the technology is no joke, as we learned first-hand when it prevented one of us from crashing on the highway two years ago.
Our single example is not an indicator of the need for the technology. Rather, police reports tell the tale. According to 2013 National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) data, one-third of all police-reported crashes involve a rear-end collision. A comprehensive, real-world test of identical cars with and without the system showed that the system reduced rear-end crashes by 40%.
One unexpected side-effect of the technology, which prevents the car from hitting objects in its path at even low speeds, is that cars equipped with AEB stop in car washes. Our managing editor, Craig Fitzgerald, highlighted the unexpected consequence and has called for automakers to install a simple “car wash” button. Watch the Nissan video to see how many steps it takes to disable the system in the top-selling Nissan Rogue. Subaru, whose systems have been rated the best in the industry, do come with one simple button to shut off auto braking. It is turned back on with one more touch or automatically comes back on once the car is restarted.
With the country’s top maker of compact crossovers and the top maker of cars now offering this technology standard, it won’t be long before the rest of the mainstream automakers follow suit. Notably, this advanced safety technology is being market-driven. There is no government mandate that the technology be used.