FRANKFURT -- German automotive supplier Continental AG will supply stability control systems as a standard feature in four different Ford sport utility vehicle (SUV) models, Continental said on Thursday.
Starting in 2005, the Ford Explorer, Mercury Mountaineer, and both the Lincoln Navigator and Aviator will be equipped with Continental Teves's AdvanceTrac electronic stability program (ESP) and Roll Stability Control (RSC).
The Ford Expedition will offer both systems as an optional feature.
While immensely popular in the United States, SUVs have been found to be three times more prone to cause fatal rollover accidents than passenger cars due to their higher center of gravity.
The stability control systems could help put an end to a rash of lawsuits and negative publicity that have troubled the Explorer, the industry's best-selling SUV.
Early in June, a California jury ordered Ford to pay at least $122 million in damages to a woman who was left a paraplegic after her Explorer rolled over.
Only days later, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gave the SUV an average score in rollover safety tests despite tipping on two wheels during the test.
The Mercury Mountaineer is built on the same frame as the Explorer and achieved the same results.
Thanks to increasing penetration rates for the safety feature, Continental sold more than 30 percent more ESP units in the first half of 2004, and the product remains one of its most profitable.