NEW ORLEANS -- General Motors announced that two safety technologies, OnStar and electronic stability control, will become standard features for retail customers in the United States and Canada, covering all segments and prices except for some commercial vehicles. The fast-track expansion of OnStar-equipped vehicles begins this year and will be completed in 2007. The first year of OnStar safety and security service is included on all OnStar-equipped vehicles. Electronic stability control, sold as StabiliTrak, is standard on many GM full-size SUVs and will expand to midsize SUVs this year. Remaining GM SUVs and vans will have StabiliTrak standard by the end of 2007. It will be standard on all GM cars and trucks sold to retail customers by the end of 2010. As enablers of electronic stability control, antilock brakes and traction control will become standard as well. "These moves are consistent with GM's continuing effort to strengthen its brands, build on our history of innovation and leverage our global capabilities," GM North America President Gary Cowger told GM dealers at the National Automobile Dealers Association convention here. OnStar, currently available on more than 50 GM models, is recognized as the automotive industry benchmark for safety, security and information services and has been credited with helping to save scores of lives. OnStar features include alerting emergency services when air bags deploy, assisting authorities in locating stolen vehicles and remotely unlocking doors when keys are left inside. StabiliTrak helps a driver maintain vehicle control during challenging or unexpected driving conditions, such as ice, snow, wet pavement and emergency lane changes or avoidance maneuvers. It is credited in several independent studies with dramatically decreasing the number of single-vehicle crashes, especially those resulting from a loss of control. Recent studies by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety both indicated that the widespread application of electronic stability control could result in a significant safety benefit. "Electronic stability control is a technology with significant safety potential," said Dr. Jeffrey W. Runge, Administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). "We at NHTSA commend General Motors for this progressive action to improve the safety of its customers." Based on stability systems now in use, NHTSA's study reported a 67-percent risk reduction in single-vehicle crashes for SUVs. The IIHS said as many as 800,000 of the 2 million single-vehicle crashes that occur each year could be avoided if stability control was standard on all vehicles sold in the United States. GM began offering OnStar services and StabiliTrak in 1997 and has more than 3 million OnStar subscribers and 2 million ESC-equipped vehicles on the road.

Originally posted on Fleet Financials