At its annual Fleet & Commercial Operations' product preview event in Charlotte, NC, last month, GM demonstrated its StabiliTrak electronic stability-control system, which the OEM is rolling it in stages across all its car and light-truck product lines.
StabiliTrak will be standard equipment on all SUVs and passenger vans marketed by various GM brands in 2007 and company executives stated that the system would appear on cargo vans within the next few years.
According to GM, electronic stability-control systems are engineered to help reduce single-vehicle crashes in low-traction conditions such as driving on ice, snow, gravel, wet pavement and uneven road surfaces.
StabiliTrak, the OEM explained, uses sensors to detect the difference between the steering wheel angle and the direction a driver is actually turning a vehicle and then applies “quick, precise force to the appropriate brakes to help the driver control the vehicle's direction to help keep it on course.”
The system was demonstrated to fleet customers and media in Charlotte by GM and TRW via a Chevrolet Express passenger van fitted with a set of four roof-mounted lights.
The yellow lamps indicated to observers at which wheel position the brakes were being electronically applied as a driver put the van through a series of rapid evasive maneuvers meant to simulate situations that might normally cause loss of control of a vehicle not equipped with an electronic stability-control system.
According to GM, it will make StabiliTrak standard on all GM cars and trucks sold to retail customers by the end of 2010, “more than a year ahead of a new federal mandate” for electronic stability control systems.
Steve Matsil, chief engineer for vans & commercial vehicles, told Fleet Owner that StabiliTrak will be available on GMC/Chevy YF7 1500 Series “stripped vans” (which are meant for upfitting) in 2008 and then be included on other (cargo) van models over the next two years. He noted that the rollout takes time, as GM prefers to complete two winters of testing before final engineering to properly “tune” StabiliTrak to each vehicle type.
The StabiliTrak demo was part of GM's 10-city “Continuous Safety Tour,” which kicked off in Charlotte. The tour also includes information on the Advanced Automatic Crash Notification aspect of GM's OnStar telematics solution. This feature provides information that can reduce the time needed to notify first responders, for them to reach the crash and for victims to reach a hospital.
“GM is implementing technology that's been proved to help save lives,” said Bob Lange, exec. dir. of structure & safety integration.