ESP (sometimes referred to as ESC) stands for Electronic Stability Program. Initially developed by Mercedes-Benz to maintain stability on the S-Class, the Germans shared this technology (without charge - much like ABS / airbags) with arch rivals BMW and the rest of the automotive world.
There are still some in the auto industry that don't believe in the benefits, however numerous studies have shown the life saving potential of ESP.
In 2004 the U.S. National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration (NHSTA) released results of a field study in the U.S. of ESP effectiveness. NHTSA results showed that ESP reduces crashes by up to 35%.
ESP is undoubtedly of greater benefit to larger cars, studies have shown that sport utility vehicles (SUVs) with ESP are involved in 67 percent fewer accidents than SUVs without the system.
According to NHTSA research conducted in 2005, the cost of adding ESP to a vehicle averages to around $111 USD (ABS - $368 USD). In total the additional cost of both features comes out to $479 USD.
The system works by measuring many variables in real time, extra equipment for ESP systems include:
- Yaw Rate/Lateral Acceleration Sensors,
- a Steering Wheel Sensor,
- an upgraded Integrated Control Unit.
Most new cars have the benefit of ESP, however some big names, such as Toyota's New Corolla, miss out on the technology.