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Offline j15


  • Joined: Oct 2006

  • Location: Sydney
http://www.drive.com.au/Editorial/ArticleDetail.aspx?ArticleID=62207&s_rid=smh:rainbowstrip:content2:17-04:17-4_stability:mandatorystabilitycontrol

The Australian Government is poised to make it compulsory for all vehicles to be fitted with stability control systems by the end of 2011.

The systems, which can prevent a vehicle from skidding out of control, have been described by safety experts as the biggest breakthrough since the seatbelt.

The Australian Government says stability control has the potential to significantly reduce the number of single vehicle accidents, which account for almost 50 per cent of road crashes – and 450 fatalities a year - in Australia.

It says the technology could reduce accidents by about 30 per cent for passenger cars and up to 70 per cent for offroaders and light commercial vehicles.

But the move is being partially opposed by the automotive industry, which is asking for commercial vehicles, including utes, vans and buses, to be exempt from the mandate.

Almost one in five vehicles on the road is classed as a commercial vehicle, including the country’s third most popular vehicle, the Toyota HiLux.

Utes and vans are inherently less stable than cars because of their high centre of gravity, but very few have stability control fitted, despite the fact that many are used as family vehicles.

The Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries, which represents car makers, says the inclusion of commercial vehicles in the mandate will create a logistical nightmare for car makers.

Commercial vehicles are not updated as regularly as passenger cars and therefore new technology takes longer to filter through. The FCAI warns that the mandate could force some car makers to withdraw utes from sale in Australia.

The large number of cab chassis vehicles with different trays and bodies fixed to them also makes the fitment of stability control a problem, because the trays can change the centre of gravity of the vehicle, affecting the performance of the stability control system. 

The Government move will bring the Australian Design Rules into line with the United States and the European Union, who are both aiming for a 2011 introduction of mandatory stability control for all-new models and 2014 for all existing new vehicles. Their legislation also includes commercial vehicles.

The FCAI argues that the regulations regarding passenger vehicles may be academic by 2012 because of the high number of cars that already have the systems as standard.

It says that as of December last year, 60 per cent of passenger cars and more than 80 per cent of offroaders had the technology. By 2012, it estimates the figure will be closer to 95 per cent. It admits that the fitment rate in commercial vehicles is, however, much lower.

The Department is currently reviewing submissions from the industry and other interested parties - including state governments - on the proposed new ADR and is due to put a recommendation to the federal Transport Minister, Anthony Albanese, in the next couple of months.

But the move may not be enough to head off a threatened revolt from the Victorian Government, which wants the mandate introduced a year earlier and is looking to over-ride the ADR process and make standard stability control a pre-requisite for vehicle registration in the state.



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