FRANKFURT - The electronic stability program that makes it nearly impossible to roll a Mercedes A-class could be the next major electronic feature to infiltrate volume car lines.
Bosch will at least triple its output this year for Daimler-Benz to meet A-class orders, and Volkswagen has an option on one million units from ITT.
The Volkswagen order could take all of ITT's capacity.
VW Chairman Ferdinand Piech said he wants to be ready for market demand. He considers Mercedes-Benz as the chief competition to the Volkswagen brand. VW will offer ESP as optional equipment for all models.
Sources at the company said the VW order could take all of ITT's capacity. Already, ITT has decided to increase its engineering team from 600 to 660, and to cancel plans to reduce its production workforce this year.
When Daimler-Benz made ESP standard on its A-class, other companies showed renewed interest in the system. Without ESP and with its original suspension, the A-Class was unstable in the moose avoidance test.
Bosch is investing in more capacity, said a spokesman, but he gave no numbers.
Bosch produced 50,000 units of ESP in 1997.
Juergen Hubbert, Daimler Benz board member for the passenger car section expects an A-Class production of 150,000 units in 1998 and 200,000 units in 1999.
'Bosch has a lot to do for us,' said a Daimler-Benz spokesman. 'They are really spinning over there.'