Making ESC standard can't happen soon enough

When the Citroen Nemo landed on its roof after failing the so-called “moose test” last month automakers were reminded once again that it just makes good business sense to spend a little extra money on safety.

The reason that the Nemo car-derived van failed the test, which was run by the powerful ADAC German auto club, was because it has a high roofline and it does not have electronic stability control, which helps prevent skidding and rollovers.

ESC will become mandatory in all new-vehicle types sold in Europe starting November 1, 2011. It should be mandatory today in models such as the Nemo and its siblings, the Peugeot Bipper/Teepe and Fiat Fiorino/Qubo.


Because when the ADAC tested the Fiat variant equipped with ESC, the car-derived van easily passed the moose test, which is an emergency obstacle avoidance maneuver conducted at between 70 kph and 90 kph.

ESC is standard in some variants of the Fiorino or available as a 300 euro ($380) option.

PSA/Peugeot-Citroen doesn't offer the safety system in the Nemo or Bipper.

PSA's punishment for its error in judgment is a lot of bad publicity and the high likelihood that Fiat will steal sales away from is sister models.

To PSA's credit, it told the ADAC that it would offer ESC in the Nemo and Bipper starting in July. France's largest automaker even may decide to make the system standard equipment.

What is most amazing about this story is that Mercedes-Benz had to overcome a similar problem with the first-generation A class in 1997.

Back then, the stakes were much higher for Mercedes because the A class was its first entry-premium model. Failing the moose test was embarrassing but Mercedes prevented it from being a devastating blow by making ESC standard in the A class.

That solved the problem and saved the day.

The bottom line is that PSA's image has taken a hit that could have been avoided.

Hopefully other automakers will not make the same mistake.

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