Subaru Lane Departure Warning, Image: Bestride.comTTAC commentator Volvo writes:

Hi Sajeev,

Why is there so much enthusiast hate on electronic driver’s assistance aids such as lane departure warning, blind spot warning, adaptive cruise, front and side cameras, etc?

It reminds me of arguments against seat belts that arose in the ’70s. As a package, these are not that expensive to incorporate into a vehicle (I can retrofit a decent backup camera for less than $50) and perhaps should also be mandated rather than remaining expensive options.

Sajeev answers:

The phrase “not that expensive to incorporate” assumes your price elasticity of demand is a bellwether for everyone in the autoblogosphere. Good luck with that, son! 

And backup cameras are now mandatory: considering the price/availability of smartphone cameras, it’s no surprise a dashboard’s multi function screen accommodates one. And if one camera is cheap-ish, incorporating 3 more won’t kill the pocketbook… right?

So the enthusiast hate likely revolves around:

  1. The death by a thousand cuts of added items to a vehicle’s MSRP. Hence the popularity of our Ace of Base series?
  2. The durability of said items when ownership occurs outside the warranty period.
  3. The cost to replace sensors, cameras, modules, wiring, etc. after a collision without insurance. The retail price of these bits ain’t cheap, the days of people paying for repairs out of pocket are numbered if such technology is mandated.

Not knowing the cost of adding seat belts back then, who knows their impact on MSRP relative to hourly wages, then comparing it to our predicament.

Perhaps there’s a better analogy.

Lincoln Mark VII ABS advertisement, Image:

Witness the proliferation of anti-lock braking systems in the USA, from bespoke German bits only available in 1985.5 Lincoln Continentals — sorry 1986 Corvette, you lost by 6 months — to standard equipment on GM vehicles by the mid-90s. GM made a big deal about in-house ABS production, translating into ABS as standard equipment (until it was not). If you remember every mid-90s Pontiac with “ABS” emblazoned on their center caps, you know it was a big deal.

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Perhaps another GM innovation reinforces the argument: how many manufacturers use Magneride shocks after Delphi’s implementation for the Cadillac STS? When someone sets the standard, multiple brands shall line up for the privilege, making for a palatable price for piston heads.

The point: someone’s gonna integrate/reproduce accident avoidance systems on a scale that lowers the price to cheap(ish)… but it’s gonna take time.


Send your queries to Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry…but be realistic, and use your make/model specific forums instead of TTAC for more timely advice.

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