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Limited Availability of New Safety Technology

Automobile manufacturers are going out of their way to promote new technology like adaptive cruise control, lane change assist, forward collision mitigation, etc. The IIHS (Insurance Institute for Highway Safety) has been rating cars with such features and pressing hard to see them adopted.

So why is it so hard to find cars to test drive and buy that are so equipped. Examples: Subaru’s eyesight system, Chevy Impala Forward Collision braking, Ford Fusion driver assist package. I’ve tried to test drive all of these so-equipped cars at dozens of Southeastern Michigan dealers and haven’t had a single success. The same thing is true for cars with plug-in hybrid technology.

Here’s what one Ford dealer told me: “There are rarely any available for us to have in stock. In general, they are “special order” vehicles due to the limited amount of production that is available locally. I will be fortunate to be able to locate a vehicle for you to test drive.”

A Chevy dealer said they never order Impala’s with forward collision mitigation for inventory because “it makes the cars too expensive and they can’t sell them.” Really?

Subaru Corporate told me that cars with Eyesight will “eventually” get here but they are not manufacturing many yet.

I’ve been shopping for a Ford Fusion Energi, a plug-in hybrid with all the driver assistance goodies and would love to test drive one before committing. No luck.

What a shame that the manufacturers are creating and promoting these amazing features but limit their availability to purchasers. Why would they do that?

Has anyone else noticed this problem?

(PS: I also posted this question in the Newspaper Section of this site. I probably should have come here first.)

Most new tech , from phones and computer programs, to cars and T.Vs,…takes some time for growing pains.
Though the initial idea has been developed and passed their r&d , I honestly think that you should NOT be in such a hurry to be one of the guinea pigs, give it all some time to shake out.
The difficulty finding one to test drive is …
in my opinion…
an omen.
Being in such a hurry to jump into the latest tech toy usually results in YOU also being the first to find out what the rest of us know…why to give it some time.
Are you one of the first in line for all these new apple toys ?

When they’re common enough to test drive one easily…they’re probably common enough to have gotten some of the bugs out.,
if you truly want that stuff bad enough, just be patient.
then add to that the system malfunction potential…diagnostic difficulty ( Joe’s garage will never be able to help you here ), massive cost of dealer repair, and the extremely soon obsolescence of those systems being serviceable at all.

In my opinion ;
Personally, I will never be first in line for tech toys.
Most of these new …eh-hem…’‘safety ?’’ features are simply baby sitting cop outs for drivers who honestly believe that car companies and liability law suits OWE them these so they do not need to actually learn to drive. Yes that’s my opinion.
’’ but , Judge;’’
’’ the technology was built into the car, how could it possibly be distracted driving?’’
’’ it’s the CARS fault…it should have ;stopped me / warned me / ( insert stupid excuse here )’'
We all can see it coming :frowning:

Isn’t the Ford Energi basically a Fusion Hybrid with a bigger battery and plug-in ability? You could test drive a Fusion Hybrid and, if you like it, order the Energi.

Personally its not something I would be interested in at all and really wouldn’t want to pay extra for it. I am quite capable of driving and stopping myself so I understand the reasoning of the dealers. I think most of this stuff is just trying to find some possible way of differentiating themselves from all the other cars that look and drive pretty much the same.

I don’t know why, but I darn glad that none of that stuff is on any car I own!

You’re talking about putting technology on your car that OVERRIDES you! Are you really willing to bet your LIFE that the engineers got it right? I’m not!

Just like a sailor or pilot, I’m the CAPTAIN of my vehicle. That’s a position of authority–one I respect and work hard to deserve. Then, you put new technology that applies the brakes–whether you want them or not; whether you EXPECT it or not!

What if your car slams on the brakes while you’re cornering hard? Snap oversteer, that’s what! (But, don’t worry, they have technology that corrects the mistakes of the other technology…much like taking a pill to counter the side-effects of another pill.)

I don’t even like that stability control baloney on cars–or at least, it should immediately cut off when you use the parking brake! (Pardon me, HAL, how do you know I didn’t WANT a bootleg turn right there?)

Maybe you’d be better off investing the money you would have spent on advanced driving school–then, you’d be experienced enough to outperform the silicon in an actual emergency.

all that safety stuff is gonna kill somebody…

That stuff all comes with a hefty price tag. When something becomes inoperative and the cost to fix it runs into the thousands don’t point the finger at the mechanics.

I might note that lately on TV there seems to be a proliferation of commercials touting these safety features but in the ads the drivers are shown to be totally careless behind the wheel.

One of them features a woman turned around and pacifying an infant in a rear child seat as she’s driving. She turns back around in time as the car slams to a halt and avoids a head-on with an approaching semi truck. Left unsaid was why the semi in the front windshield was not moving…

So tack on thousands of dollars worth of high tech wizardry in an attempt to make a car idiot proof?

I believe that someday the “safety” engineers will take away the ability to shift your vehicle while it’s moving. As soon as you have unintended acceleration you will find out that there is no way to stop the car other than using the brakes…and we know how that turns out. Push button ignitions that don’t work until you’re completely stopped and no way to shift to neutral. I just don’t get how these automotive “advancements” make us safer.

the infinity commercial is horrible, like the guy is above having to watch where he is going. the car “leaves him free to drive” what the heck does that mean?

Yup, I think they’ll call it public transit where all control has been relinquished to a professional for our own safety. Just hope they don’t fall asleep like in Chicago.


I KNOW I’m a “retro grouch,” but in a runaway situation like the one you describe, I’m glad my F-150 has a metal key, that turns a tumbler, that breaks a circuit, depowers ignition…and that the “systems” on my truck are simple, and transparent, enough for me to “reverse-engineer” it.

(And if THAT fails, my left foot acts upon a piston, that hydrualically disconnects the engine from the transmission and drivetrain.)

On a Buck Rogers-moblie, press the ignition button…and the car turns off…if HAL deems it appropriate. Similarly, putting the tranny in “N” puts the car in neutral…if deemed “appropriate.”

@boblo‌ What a shame that the manufacturers are creating and promoting these amazing features but limit their availability to purchasers. Why would they do that?
IMOO I do not believe these are amazing features. Forward collision assist, the driver does not need this if they are paying attention.

Side warning, The driver does not need this if they turn their heads and check the mirrors.

Adaptive cruise, drive needs to pay attention.

The safety features that are most beneficial are those that protect occupants from other drivers like safety belts, etc.

My biggest concern is that the Mike Bloombergs and Ralph Naders of this world will deem all this technology mandatory whether we want it or not and make cars so expensive that the working class finds itself gentrified out of driving.

Ralph Nader’s time is over

Right now he’s just a miserable old sourpuss

I wish it were so. I suspect he is over, but “his time” is only coming into fruition.

I prefer personal responsibility to nanny-state interventions, but I suspect I’m on the wrong side of history…

B.L.E., I fear your fear is already here.
I believe cars are already overregulated to the detriment of their affordability by the working class. And it’s going to get a lot worse in the near future.

I believe some of these systems are great ideas, particularly proximity sensing systems, but that does not mean I think they should be mandatory. There is a point at which the unintended consequence of making new cars unavailable to more people, leaving more old beaters still operating that might have been replaced with newer cars, is worse than not having the new technology at all. I believe we’ve passed that point already. And the more systems we mandate, the bigger the problem becomes. I believe that if these new technologies were allowed to freely flow down to the level that the market can afford, than we might not have all cars with the new systems but we’ll have more of them on the road than if the technology gets mandated for all cars.

The OP’s original point of being frustrated by the lack of availability of these new technologies at the price points he’s shopping at to me validate the belief that they’re currently just too expensive for the working class vehicles. If the OP were shopping for a new S-class, he’d have no problem finding the technology… but at a very high cost.

I can’t speak for the Ford and GM systems but on the Subaru it depends on which model, my salesman told me that the2015 Legacy and Outback with Eyesight won’t be released until sometime in October, you might have a hard time finding many Foresters with the Eyesight system because depending on the trim level they might not be able to get enough of them to meet demand. I was able to test drive a higher trim level than the one I’m buying (2015 Forester Premium with Eyesight) and from the test drive on a variety of roads and in Friday afternoon traffic (I was pretty much free to choose the route but did have the salesman next to me) My experience is that the system is there to get your attention if you drift out of your lane or you’re getting too close to the car in front and will “slam on the brakes” only if you don’t react first. Yes you should still pay attention even with one of these systems but not people get distracted sometimes. And most of these systems are only designed to brake for you a certain number of times and you would have to shut the car off and restart before the automatic brakes would work again.

I’m more hyper vigilant than some since I’ve been bicycle commuting for most of the past couple years and if you don’t pay attention to what the cars on the road are doing you don’t have any airbags or 3,000lbs or so of metal to protect you.

The technology is getting cheaper (about a $700 premium for the Eyesight on mine over the cost of just the cold weather package which is required along with the CVT) but I realize and appreciate that not everyone feels comfortable with this technology.

I really really want a Subaru Legacy with Eyesight. It’s been a massive PITA to order one. Personally, if my third attempt at a second dealer doesn’t come through, I might well just give up. And this isn’t good for Subaru’s image, or their loyal customers. This would be my third new Subaru…

My biggest complaint is that Subaru apparently doesn’t train their dealers in the Southern Tier of New York. Or has no quality control on them. I shouldn’t know far more about the 2015 Legacy’s packages, options etc than the salesmen. I used to work retail at Best Buy, and they at least trained the salesmen a bit on the products, especially if it was a new product that was being heavily advertised.

So my second complaint echoes the original poster - WHY are the companies heavily advertising features that as far as I can tell almost don’t actually exist in the cars you’ll see at the dealership? It’s also far from obvious for Subaru in the ads that this is an optional feature at a high price point. I know this from their website, but if you saw the various ads and advertised price points, you’ll be in for a suprise if you look at one with Eyesight - if you even can.

As to people saying this is a new system, well - depends on what you mean. Subaru has had this in cars since 2013 model year, so it’s not like it’s the first release.

Why am I interested? Well - As in another post on this board, there are frequent times where I can’t see cars coming when backing out of a parking spot. Every time I’m driving I’m spending a lot of time modulating the cruise control because people drive slower than I like to, or seem to randomly vary their speed. This isn’t slowing down for a town, or stopping for a deer (that I can see anyway) but just varying their speed.

Also, distracted driving - I am more distracted now than in the past. Smartphone, Satallite radio, etc - I want to take steps to mitigate that till there are full on self driving cars available. Cellphones in general - I love and hate them. I love the convenience for communication, planning, and information gathering. I hate that if you don’t answer them you just get crap from everybody. And it starts to bleed into your thought patterns, I now get annoyed when others don’t answer my phone calls (although primarily because it’s usually “Do you want X” and somehow it’s not acceptable to say “You didn’t answer, so I didn’t get you X”).

It’s not the first release, actually the Legacy/Outback for 2015 has the next generation of Eyesight with better cameras and extra features. Relatives in Sough Dakota have an Outback with the 2nd gen Eyesight on order that’s expected next month. According to Motor Trend only 30% of outbacks are expected to be equipped with Eyesight.

Many salesmen simply think they need to be able to close the deal, not know everything about a particular model, I’ve been able to give more information than certain Toyota salesmen i’ve encountered who could at least pick up a brochure and read through the standard features.

Also, distracted driving - I am more distracted now than in the past. Smartphone, Satallite radio, etc - I want to take steps to mitigate that till there are full on self driving cars available.

Then you should not be on the road to begin with. The only thing you should be doing behind the wheel is DRIVING, everything else can wait until you reach your destination!