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Lexus expands driver aids safety net

Back catalogue: Lexus is adding technology to its cars that should help drivers in car parks and out on the road.

Tech spread to focus on Lexus reversing assistant, blind spot monitor

19 Aug 2014

LEXUS is adding extra technology to the equipment list for its cars that will help drivers survive with fewer scrapes in car parks.

The announcement comes on the same day it received criticism from the Australian crash safety watchdog for holding out on offering potentially life-saving electronic driver supports on its cheaper models.

The car-maker said today that it would offer rear-cross traffic alert, which electronically watches out for oncoming traffic while backing out of a parking spot, and blind-spot monitoring across its range.

Lexus Australia said the first vehicles to receive the accident-avoiding technology include the upcoming NX compact SUV, due in October, and the RC coupe early next year.

By the end of this year, it also plans to have cross-flow alert in its small sedan IS, mid-size ES sedan, GS four-door coupe and LS large sedan.

“Lexus Australia has committed to rolling out innovative visibility technology to its sedan and SUV range,” the luxury arm of Japanese car-making giant Toyota said.

“Lexus was the first marque in Australia to standardise reverse cameras in 2003, and is now in the process of making blind spot monitoring and rear cross traffic alert technology available to all its customers,” it said.

According to Lexus Australia chief executive Sean Hartley, adding the electronic driver aids “reaffirms Lexus' commitment to safety”.

"Lexus already offers reverse camera as standard across our entire model range and the addition of rear cross traffic alert and blind spot monitoring only strengthens our stance on safety," Mr Hanley said.

"We are committed to ensuring that the innovative safety technology is available across as many of our models as quickly as possible, starting with the all-new NX and RC."However, the announcement failed to answer criticism from the Australiasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP), which today gave Lexus a backhanded compliment for achieving a top five-star crash rating for both its facelifted CT200h petrol-electric hybrid hatchback and IS mid-size sedan, but providing lower levels of electronic safety for entry-level models of both cars.

According to ANCAP, features such as active cruise control, lane diversion warnings, active cruise control and even one of the technologies Lexus wants to make available – blind spot monitoring – are reserved for more expensive models.

“Each of these models offer a respectable range of safety assist technologies,” ANCAP chairman Lauchlan McIntosh said.

“However, as with a number of other vehicles we've tested recently, we are continuing to see the majority of these important technologies either being withheld from base variants or not available at all," he said.

"If we are to see a significant drop in the number of lives lost on our roads, these technologies need to be provided to all.

“Safety should not be seen as luxury or added extra."The Lexus NX will display a 360-degree view of the car’s surroundings on the SUV’s central screen – but only on selected models.

According to Lexus, the technology will provide drivers with a visual 'sweep' of the vehicle's exterior and any potential obstructions before driving away.

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