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Security technology flops: Helpers without assertiveness

Security technology flops
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H manufacturers such as Mercedes, Volvo, Volkswagen, Saab, BMW or Audi are pioneers in the field of automotive safety technology. Equipment details such as ABS, ESP, cornering lights, seat belts or night vision devices have made vehicles increasingly safer in recent decades.

Procon-Ten is subject to airbag

Although the number of vehicles and driver's license holders is increasing year on year, the number of serious and fatal accidents has fallen significantly. With vehicles getting faster and faster, overcrowded streets and more complex technology, this is primarily due to the security departments, who are equally visionary in the future of manufacturers and suppliers. It has taken years of work to develop new equipment details that are intended to make driving even safer. Again and again, however, these developments went wrong.

One of the best-known examples is the Procon-Ten safety system developed by Audi. At the end of the 1980s, Audi equipped the vehicles in the 80 and 100 series with Procon-Ten (stands for: programmed contraction and tension). Instead of an airbag for the driver, the steering column and the steering wheel were pulled towards the dashboard via steel cables in the event of a collision. This should prevent or minimize serious injury to the driver in the area of ​​the upper body. But Procon-Ten could not prevail against safety steering columns and airbags. The life-saving airbag celebrated its series premiere in the Mercedes S-Class of the W 126 series.

Xenon technology and cornering lights prevail

Cornering and cornering lights were banned for years. Headlights were only allowed to shine forward. After the aircraft industry had already brought powerful xenon technology into cars, they were also the indirect pioneers in cornering lights. But at the beginning of the 1970s there was already a high beam on the Citroen SM that could move variably with the steering. The Citroen DS had a similar technology from 1967 and the Tucker Torpedo 20 years earlier. But the technology of the steerable headlights did not catch on - at least initially. Nowadays, active driving lights are at least available as an option from most car manufacturers.

The xenon headlights light up depending on the steering movement to the left and right. In addition, the headlights on many models also adapt to the speed. More and more car manufacturers like BMW, Opel, Mercedes,Audi and Volkswagen are now offering a variable lighting system that should guarantee optimal illumination in every driving situation - including low beam, fog and high beam. Completely new models even rely on LED technology.

From the Pax system to run-flat tires

Replacement tires are out. The fifth wheel in the car is heavy, expensive and takes up valuable storage space. No wonder that replacement tires have long since disappeared from vehicles in many countries in the western world. However, a repair kit that includes a sealant and compressor is not the best solution. A few years ago, however, Audi brought a different system onto the market for the last generation of the Audi A8 luxury sedan. The so-called Pax system was good - but unfortunately also much too expensive. On the aluminum rim there was not only the normal tire, but also a hard rubber roller underneath. This lay directly on the rim and ensured that the luxury sedan from Ingolstadt could still be driven without any problems even with flat tires. The system was brand new in the second half of the 1990s only for the volume models. This is because similar systems had existed for many years in armored personal protection vehicles. But the Pax system did not prevail. Numerous vehicles are now on the road with run-flat tires, which have a range of more than 50 kilometers even without air due to reinforced sidewalls.

Brake light variations

In general, vehicles have a brake light in the taillights. This lights up as soon as the driver presses the brake with his foot. Resourceful developers came up with the idea at the beginning of the 1990s that the following traffic should be specially warned in the event of an emergency braking. Some manufacturers let the brake light pulsate when the deceleration was particularly strong; others switched on the hazard warning lights during emergency braking. BMW went its own way a few years ago. With the introduction of the LED taillights on the 7 and 3 Coupé of the previous generation, there was a two-stage brake light. During normal braking, only the inner part glowed; in the event of emergency braking, the area of ​​the brake light was enlarged by an additional LED ring. The “Break Force Display”, which was initially only introduced in the USA, flopped after its German approval, which was granted at the end of 2006. A use in the Z4 and BMW 5 series was also unsuccessful. In the meantime, the brake light pulsates during emergency braking on a BMW too.

BMW is one of the few manufacturers who brought the steering rear axle back into series vehicles. In the decades before, there were also steering rear axles in vehicles from different manufacturers. There were also steering rear axles on BMW, Renault, Mazda, Nissan, Citroen and Honda, among others. In the current 7 series from BMW, the technically active Bavarians added this equipment detaillonger break. Previously, this was the last time on the 8 Series BMW. Since then, despite the undisputed advantages in terms of driving safety and dynamics, the competition has mostly only shook their heads. It is unlikely that this option will last long on the market. It looks no different with the Renault Laguna.

Headrests with viewing window

In the 80s, some car manufacturers came up with the idea of ​​producing headrests using a frame construction. This should ensure that the rear view is not so severely restricted, especially with the rear headrests. But in most cases the frame construction looked anything but valuable. On the other hand, it turned out that hardly any motorists could see through the tiny hatches of the frame headrest. In times of parking aids and reversing cameras, this trend has also long since disappeared. The whole thing became an absurdity when Mercedes presented the E-Class of the W 124 series with folding headrests in 1984. In the meantime, however, the headrests that fold back completely have also disappeared on the new E- and CLS-Class models. However, some manufacturers have sensors that lower the headrests when the back seat is not occupied.

Unnecessary warning tones, sluggish cruise control

The lockable bonnet is about a completely different kind of security, which fortunately has only been able to establish itself at Ford until now. Due to a cheaper insurance rating in some countries, Ford models have had a key mechanism for several years. Reaching into the footwell is therefore not enough to open the bonnet. At Fiesta, Kuga and Co. nothing works without a key. Very annoying and in times of keyless access with Keyless Go or Keyless Access, where the key stays in your pocket, yesterday anyway. Hopefully this development will soon come to an end at Ford too.

One can only hope for that for cars that beep briefly when engaging reverse gear and thus do not stop during the entire reverse drive. The best example is the Mitsubishi Lancer Evo. The beeping when reversing is well known in some countries on trucks, construction vehicles or forklifts. It's annoying enough here - but the whole thing has no place in a road vehicle. The same applies to insensitive sensor mats in the front passenger seat. Some particularly sensitive sensor mats cannot tell whether a heavy colossus or a handbag is on the front passenger seat. Since the handbag is not buckled, a nerve-killing gong often sounds while driving.

Many distance cruise control systems are anything but a direct hit. Not only does the officially set minimum distance cause a lot of trouble hereInvites road users into the gap in front of the vehicle. Even more annoying is the slow acceleration of the vehicle when the vehicle in front has cut back to the right. A powerful engine does not necessarily ensure an automated, sporty acceleration. Many vehicles with ACC accelerate so slowly that you should override the cruise control immediately.


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