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Europe-wide vehicle safety survey Drivers’ awareness of ESP® on the increase


·Every second driver in Europe has heard of ESP®

·Significant differences from country to country

·German drivers best informed about active safety systems

When they purchase a car, drivers place even greater importance on safety than they do on fuel consumption or price. This is shown by a recent survey commissioned by Bosch in Germany, France, Italy, Spain, the UK, Belgium, and the Netherlands. Above all, the awareness of “active safety systems” that help to prevent accidents is increasing significantly. For example, every second driver in Europe has now heard of the Electronic Stability Program ESP®. This figure is significantly higher than in 2004, when only 39 percent had heard of ESP®. However, most of the 3,000 people surveyed still associate the topic of safety in the car mainly with “passive safety systems”. These are systems designed to reduce the severity of accidents.

When asked to spontaneously name safety systems in the car, respondents in most of the countries surveyed came up first and foremost with airbags and safety belts. Active safety systems, such as the antilock blocking system ABS and the Electronic Stability Program ESP® are still named far less frequently. But when the respondents are specifically asked about these systems, the survey shows that 92 percent are familiar with ABS, and 54 percent with ESP®. Moreover, roughly one third of all those who had heard of ESP® were able to explain its function and benefits correctly. One of the main reasons for this result is the widespread awareness of these systems among German drivers, while awareness in other European countries is still far less pronounced. Commenting on this, Herbert Hemming, President of the Bosch Chassis Systems Control division, states: “In western Europe, ABS has been standard equipment in all new vehicles up to 3.5 metric tons since July 2004 – and is for this reason very well known. A similar awareness of ESP® would be desirable.” In sub-compact cars in particular, ESP® is still only an option at present, or may not even be a feature at all. “But drivers have to know the benefit of an option if they are to actively choose it when buying a car,” Hemming said. To bridge this gap, Bosch launched the “ESP®erience” salesperson training program, as 62 percent of respondents cited the car salesperson as the most important source of advice when buying a car.

In order to further reduce the number of deaths on Europe’s roads, the European Commission also intends to enhance awareness of the benefits of ESP®. With its “eSafety Aware!” communication platform, launched in September 2006, it is pursuing the aim of drawing increased public attention to the benefits of modern safety technologies in the car. The topic of the first communication campaign in the first half of 2007 will be ESP®. Next to awareness, availability is the second important aspect for making the system as widespread as possible. This is why bodies such as GDV, the central federation of the German insurance industry, Thatcham, the British motor insurance repair research center, and Folksam, the Swedish insurance company, call for all new vehicles to be fitted with ESP® as standard equipment. The United States has already gone a step further. The National Highway Traffic Safety Authority (NHTSA) plans to phase in ESP® as a mandatory feature of all new cars from 2008 on.

The Bosch Group is a leading global manufacturer of automotive and industrial technology, consumer goods, and building technology. In fiscal 2005, some 251,000 associates generated sales of 41.5 billion euros. Set up in Stuttgart in 1886 by Robert Bosch (1861-1942) as “Workshop for Precision Mechanics and Electrical Engineering,” the Bosch Group today comprises a manufacturing, sales, and after-sales service network of more than 280 subsidiaries and more than 12,000 Bosch service centers in over 140 countries.

The special ownership structure of the Bosch Group guarantees its financial independence and entrepreneurial freedom. It makes it possible for the company to undertake significant up-front investments in the safeguarding of its future, as well as to do justice to its social responsibility in a manner reflective of the spirit and will of its founder. A total of 92 % of the share capital of Robert Bosch GmbH is held by the charitable foundation Robert Bosch Stiftung. The entrepreneurial ownership functions are carried out by Robert Bosch Industrietreuhand KG.

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PI5565 - December 2006


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