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Subaru puts safety first

Eye spy: Subaru’s EyeSight camera technology was first available on high-end variants across its range, but has become standard across its Levorg, Liberty and Outback range.

All-wheel-drive and EyeSight technology key to differentiating Subaru

8 Jul 2016

WHILE Subaru’s all-wheel-drive philosophy and EyeSight camera technology continue to be safety boons for the company, Subaru Australia managing director Nick Senior warns that future safety technologies, including autonomous drive, are still far away.

In March Subaru revealed a new Global Platform to underpin all its future models and it said at the time that the platform would help the car-maker take steps to solve “the need for enhanced straight-line stability in the autonomous vehicles of the future” and that its EyeSight system would be used to further increase passive and active safety technologies.

Speaking to GoAuto at the opening of Subaru’s latest dealership at Essendon Field in Melbourne, Subaru Australia managing director Nick Senior was quick to caution that the technology and legislation still have a long way to go before being ready for consumer use.

“I think it [self-driving cars] illustrates the challenges for everyone – the automotive industry, regulators and governments – about what is needed to understand fully before autonomous cars are rolled out,” he said.

“I think there’s a race and scramble at the moment, not only to produce autonomous cars but to understand the full impact of them from a legislative point of view.

“I think we should not underestimate the amount of work to be done there, to think that autonomous cars will be running around the road in one or two years? No, there’s a hell of a lot of work to do, from legislation to infrastructure.

“That work will happen and autonomous cars will happen, it’s just a matter of when.” The current EyeSight system utilises two forward facing cameras on either side of the rearview mirror to monitor the road ahead and give drivers access to adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning and emergency autonomous braking and could theoretically be adapted to form a basis for an autonomous driving mode.

Mr Senior said Subaru has had a long history with EyeSight and believes the acclaimed technology to be the best available.

“We started experimenting in 1980 and then started with EyeSight in 1993,” he said.

“The engineers – and Subaru is an engineer-driven company – believe that it is the best, gives you the most accurate and real-time and best definition.” Mr Senior also revealed that more than half of its cars sold this year have featured the technology, which is fitted as standard across the current Levorg, Outback and Liberty range, and on all but entry-level Forester SUVs.

“We are now in the third generation of EyeSight, as of this month it is 50.1 per cent of sales,” he said.

“I don’t think you will see that in any other brand and it’s also winning conquest business from company’s who care about their employees.

“It makes a difference and is proven to reduce accidents, figures in Japan are testament to that.” Mr Senior also highlighted Subaru’s constant all-wheel-drive technology – available on all models except the jointly-Toyota-developed BRZ – as a big differentiator from its competitors and said it was crucial to its customers.

“There is that safety story with all-wheel-drive, particularly in the wet,” he said.

“Winter time is a great time for Subarus. Any Subaru driver will tell you, they love driving to work in the wet, because they are in the outside lane going by while everyone else is tiptoeing.

“It’s about the safety and the driver confidence and it’s about the ability to do more and get more out of life. It just gives you that extra versatility.”

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