Fleet News

ESC to become standard on new vans?

Electronic Stability Program (ESP) has been arguably the most significant safety technology to have been developed in the past decade.

It has also been described as the most important safety development since the fitting of seat belts.

An increasing number of light commercial vehicle manufacturers are now embracing the technology and fitting it as standard equipment.

A high-profile publicity campaign, supported by the European Commission, has been mounted to raise the awareness of the part that ESP can play in preventing accidents.

The end result of this is that ESP is slated to be fitted as standard equipment to all new car introductions sold in Europe by 2012.

What is not readily appreciated is that this is likely to apply to LCVs as well.

In addition, the EU is also contemplating the fitment, again to commercial vehicles, of Advanced Emergency Braking Systems (AEBS) and Lane Departure Warning (LDW) by 2013.

Fitting ESP could result in up to 4,000 deaths and 100,000 injuries being avoided on Europe’s roads if all new cars and vans were fitted with the technology, originally developed by Bosch and first seen on the Mercedes-Benz S Class a decade ago.

Many developments from Bosch have become standard on today’s vehicles – most notably ABS 30 years ago, and from next year Hydraulic Brake Assist (HBA) will also be added as standard on all European vehicles.

In its simplest form, ESP prevents a vehicle from skidding sideways and in the case of vans can prevent them from rolling or tipping over.

Stability control braking controls vehicle dynamics by selectively braking individual wheels and reducing engine torque.

As a side effect, because ESP/ESC distributes the braking force across the axles in accordance with the current load, the wear on both brakes and tyres is reduced, leading to lower maintenance costs.

The latest development which is now appearing on vans is load adaptive stability control.

This takes account of the vehicle’s load and the centre of gravity – both significant variables for the function of ESP, particularly in vehicles carrying goods.

Typically, the total weight of vans can vary greatly and the position of the vehicle’s centre of gravity can be altered by up to 25% longitudinally and 50% vertically.

The Load Adaptive Control (LAC) function of this enhanced ESP system determines the distribution of the load and adapts the vehicle dynamics control to suit.

In critical conditions, therefore, the vehicle will stay more securely on track, reducing the risk of rolling.

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