“Why we won’t be getting VW’s Lane Assist”

by Walter Olson on April 22, 2008

The automotive innovation (“gently guides the car back in lane if it senses it drifting”) has promising enough safety implications that German insurance companies offer premium discounts of up to 20 percent when it is purchased as part of a package with adaptive cruise control and park assist. No prizes for guessing why Volkswagen isn’t offering it to U.S. buyers of the Passat. “What other cool stuff have auto manufacturers dreamed up, but left on the drawing board because they fear our sharks in expensive suits?” (Edward Loh, Motor Trend, Apr. 17).

{ 9 comments }

1 Jim Thomlonson 04.22.08 at 1:06 pm

Hm, considering these cars are from Germany I could see how lawsuits might be filed if these cars swerved into oncoming traffic every time someone tried to drive them in the right lane.

2 Tom T. 04.22.08 at 2:02 pm

Translated from the German, that means “It costs a lot and doesn’t really work very well yet.”

As perspective, it’s worth noting that the airbag generally became standard equipment on US cars before it did so in Europe.

3 Deoxy 04.22.08 at 2:18 pm

Nice attempt at humor, there, Jim, but Germany (and all the rest of mainland Europe) drives on the right side of the road, just like us. It’s only England, and some of her former colonies, that drive on that other side (“left” or “wrong” as you prefer).

Also, in the comments secion there… somebody defends the classic McDonald’s hot coffee case with a link to a findlaw article that regurgitates the typical plaintiff lies about it. The “40 degress hotter” comment always ticks me off, since it’s the single most egregious lie (40 degrees hotter than than 190 F is going to give you steam and nasty residue, not coffee).

4 throckmorton 04.22.08 at 2:32 pm

Jim Thomlonson:

I am not sure what you mean. They drive on the same side of the road in Germany as they do here.

5 Bill Poser 04.22.08 at 7:21 pm

It’s only England, and some of her former colonies, that drive on that other side (“left” or “wrong” as you prefer).

They also drive on the left in Japan.

6 John Burgess 04.22.08 at 10:20 pm

Jim’s attempt at humor obviously missed the mark.

What he’s implying is that Germans only drive in the left lane, perhaps because the autobahns, with no speed limits (yet) permit, if not encourage, going like hell in the left lane. There’s thus no need to be in the right lane.

Where the story about some souped-up Mercedes, Audi, or something, the jest might have worked better.

7 Deoxy 04.23.08 at 11:18 am

“They also drive on the left in Japan.”

True, and Japan was never a British colony, as such, but it was greatly influenced by the British in several areas as it came out of its self-imposed isolation period.

8 John Burgess 04.23.08 at 11:49 am

They drive on the left in Thailand, too. Also never a British colony, but with extensive, historic trade relations.

And a bit of trivia: The road leading to the entry of the Savoy Hotel is actually arranged so that cars drive on the right (i.e. US-style) side of the road. The only place in the UK where this happens, insofar as I can determine.

9 Bill Poser 04.23.08 at 4:07 pm

Japan was never a British colony, as such, but it was greatly influenced by the British in several areas as it came out of its self-imposed isolation period.

In most respects the German influence was much greater. That Japanese drive on the left is probably due in large part to the fact that they generally kept to the left on foot and horseback prior to the arrival of automobiles. The English influence comes in with the fact that the first railways were built with British assistance and so in the stations, where the line was not single track, kept to the left. Subsequently, they built horse trolleys (carriages pulled by horses but on tracks), and these too kept to the left. The horse trolleys set the pattern for self-propelled trolleys. Between the keep-to-the-left tradition and the self-propelled trolleys, automobiles also ended up keeping to the left in conformity.

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