Automakers Can’t Keep Their Systems Straight

by Aryn Plax

Jul 17, 2020

Many automakers make up new names for basic safety features so that marketers can make their features sound unique. This results in a lot of customer confusion.

“I get emails from people who think help staying in their lanes means their car can drive itself,” Mark Phelan wrote in Detroit Free Press. “IT DOESN’T. Keep your hands on the wheel.”

The American Automobile Association (AAA) said that automakers use up to 20 different names for adaptive cruise control, a feature that uses radars and other sensors to maintain distance from other vehicles.

Emergency braking systems can have up to 40 different names.

Consumer Reports surveyed 72,000 people on the issue in 2019. Kelly Funkhouser, Consumer Reports’ head of connected and automated vehicle testing, said that several manufacturers use the same name to describe different things.

Several cars on the road, each one sensing the presence of other cars.

“We heard from consumers who did their research, but couldn’t communicate with the salesperson because the automaker used different terms,” Funkhouser told Detroit Free Press. “They left the dealership with cars that didn’t have the safety features they expected.”

Some automakers have joined organizations like Consumer Reports, AAA, JD Power, National Safety Council, U.S. Department of Transportation and Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) to develop naming standards for these safety features. The SAE developed a task force for this very purpose.

“It’s important that when a customer hears a system’s name, they understand what it does,” said Chad Zagorski, GM safety and driver assistance lead engineer and chair of SAE International’s task force.

Source: Detroit Free Press