Subaru says its active safety technologies are being introduced and marketed to consumers with the same level of importance as its all-wheel drive credentials.
Speaking to CarAdvice at the launch of the 2016 Subaru Forester, Liberty and Outback, Subaru Australia’s managing director, Nick Senior, said the rate at which the brand’s active safety system – called Subaru Eyesight – has been taken up by customers has been very positive.
“It’s probably one of the successful technologies we have introduced” Senior told CarAdvice.
“[Eyesight] sales were running about 40 per cent of total Subaru sales last year and that will continue to increase. We’ve had tremendous success with fleets from an OH&S point of view, particularly with some fleets that would’ve traditionally gone with cheaper vehicles that - in terms of looking after their employees - have opted to go with Subaru because Eyesight is fitted.”
The Subaru Eyesight system, now in its third generation, brings technologies such as adaptive cruise control, pre-collision braking, pre-collision braking assist, pre-collision steering assist, lane departure warning and lead vehicle start alert to Forester, Outback and Liberty.
The third-generation system can now detect brake lights as well as provide actual steering assistance to help prevent a frontal collision.
For Subaru, the introduction of Eyesight and its more advanced vision package (that adds blindspot monitoring, lane change assist, auto dimming rear view mirror, high beam assist and rear cross traffic alert) has been a real differentiator, Senior says.
“We have had a marketing program around Eyesight and various models and its an area that we will continue to dial up, because its technology that will give us a real point of difference over our direct competitors. When you look at an outback with Eyesight and vision assist, there’s a lot of vehicles out that are double the price that don’t have the technology.”
Subaru says it was the first (mainstream) manufacturer to offer a five-star safety rated SUV and that continuously improving safety in all forms is a significant driving force of its engineering might.
“Safety has always been a very important part of our history, we started with active and passive safety and now preventative is the third leg to the stool. We believe that, and part of the strategy is to introduce it as a component that is as important as AWD both for the customer and in terms of strategy as well.”
Nonetheless, taking the active safety technology one step further towards autonomous driving cars may still be some time away, even if the technology is almost there.
“There’s no doubt that Subaru is a driver’s car and I think a lot of the brands are struggling with that in terms of having driver’s cars but I think that autonomous in some areas of the world are going to happen, its just a question of when not if," Senior said.
"I think the question in Australia is probably a lot longer-term than places like Tokyo and Europe. Obviously with eyesight and where we are, the switch to the technology is pretty close to it.”