The Highway Loss Data Institute has published a study estimating that it can take as long as 30 years for 95 percent adoption of safety technology in the automotive industry. Technological innovations are being introduced and seen in luxury models at a very pace but it takes a long time for such technologies to fully penetrate the market. The process can take as long as 30 years.
A simple example is the in-car CD player which Mercedes-Benz first introduced in 1985. It is only now, after 33 years that all cars have factory-build CD players as standard equipment. Volvo first used three-point belts in 1959, and they became standard equipment in all segments only by the late ’80s.
When we get all excited about technologies like standard parking sensors and adaptive headlights, it would be worthwhile to remember that the HLDI predicts that 95 percent of registered vehicles will be equipped with rear cameras by 2039. Rear parking sensors will become standard only by 2041. Other safety assist features like forward collision warning, blind-spot monitoring and lane departure warning will become common by 2043. Autobrake in 2045 and adaptive headlights can be expected to be seen in all models only after 2050.
The only technology that has transitioned quickly to all kinds of cars is rear-facing cameras. About 25 per cent of new vehicles sold in 2016 have standard rear-facing cameras, while one-third of cars up for sale offered them as an option. Perhaps government regulations help, as there is legal requirement in the United States that all cars sold after May 1, 2018 should have rear-facing cameras.
It remains to be seen how soon autonomous technology will percolate down to cheaper models. Will the concern for safety outweigh the cost aspect?
Hamid Moaref has always been fascinated by cars and the automotive industry. His family has a longstanding association with the industry and has been in the tire business for the past 35 years. Raised in Dubai, Hamid attended Capilano University in Vancouver where he graduated with a BBA in marketing before attending an intensive course in magazine publishing in 2005. He has been the publisher and chief editor of Tires & Parts magazine for the past ten years.
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