DETROIT - Over the next 12-18 months BMW will begin equipping its new 3-series with driver control systems that sense 'near limit' steering and traction conditions and automatically adjust to prevent spinouts and side-slip.
'We want to offer safety systems not only to our customers who buy the most expensive, but also to customers who buy a less-expensive car,' said Heinz Leffler, BMW general manager of brake and control systems.
Leffler described the third-generation dynamic stability control system at the SAE International Congress and Exposition.
'We hope we will be able to offer (dynamic stability control) within our whole model line in the very near future,' Leffler said. He expects control systems to be an automotive industry norm in four years.
He said such 'active control' systems are expected to rapidly set a global standard, even if some North American consumers may not immediately embrace the technology.
In Europe, a similar system is being made standard on the new Mercedes-Benz A-class, and Volkswagen has ordered a million units for future cars.
Asked if North American consumers might have reservations about driving control systems in the wake of negative reports about airbag and ABS systems, Leffler said: 'With apologies, I think this is unique to the USA.
'I can't say 'look, because there are a few of you who may compromise it, I will not allow air bags in cars, I will not allow ABS in cars.' '
He said such control systems are desired and expected in non-American markets.
'If the Big 3 intend to export more and more of their models and systems to Europe and Japan,' then they must offer dynamic stability control systems, Leffler said. 'At Cadillac, they do have an understanding. The other companies, Ford and Chrysler, eventually will understand it.'