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National automakers Proton and Perodua are expected to adopt autonomous emergency braking (AEB) and lane-keeping active safety systems as standard by the year 2020. Speaking at a technical conference organised by the Malaysian Automotive Institute (MAI), Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) Malaysia chairman and ASEAN NCAP secretary-general Khairil Anwar Abu Kassim made the bold prediction.

With the European New Car Assessment Programme (Euro NCAP) making AEB systems a must for vehicles to qualify for a five-star safety rating since 2012, Khairil’s statement is based on the fact that the ASEAN NCAP will do the same come 2017. It is said that AEB and lane-keeping systems will be required for a “high-class” ASEAN NCAP five-star safety rating.

“From 2011 to 2016, our pre-requisites for a car to quality for a five-star rating was only to have electronic stability control (ESC) and seatbelt reminders for both front passengers. From 2017 to 2020, to get a five-star rating you still will need to have full ESC and seatbelt reminders, but that will only qualify for a low-class five-star score. To get a high-class five-star rating, you will need AEB and lane-keeping,” Khairil said.

“As you know, even Perodua and Proton have four-star cars now, and we don’t think they will want go any lower than this. They are also challenging themselves to get five-star cars,” said the SAE Malaysia and ASEAN NCAP boss. He added that while some manufacturers may not like the new rules, this is the way the ASEAN NCAP needed to move forward in its bid to improve the safety standards of vehicles in the region.

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“Even without government regulations, ASEAN NCAP has encouraged manufacturers to maintain at least a four-star rating. My prediction is that by 2020, we can see at least half of this fleet (Proton and Perodua) equipped with AEB systems. After 2020, it may be the case that without AEB, you wouldn’t even get a three-star rating. That’s how we try to encourage manufacturers to move on.”

Automotive technology developers, Bosch, was also on hand to share its technical expertise. Klaus Landhaeusser, general manager of automotive sales, original equipment Southeast Asia, echoed Khairil’s sentiments by saying that the level of competition between the nation’s automakers will spur the move towards safer vehicles.

“We at Bosch witness on a daily basis how competitive the manufacturers are. For instance, when company “A” introduces a new feature, for sure company “B” will come to us and request for it as well,” he said.

“I totally agree that the ASEAN NCAP is playing a major role in pushing manufacturers to reach their (highest) ratings. But on the other hand, you also cannot underestimate the power of communication towards the end consumer coming from the organisation. This is an essential point to creating this “cul-de-sac” where the end consumer starts asking manufacturers about these new fancy features as well,” Landhaeusser added.

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When paultan.org quizzed the Bosch chief on whether it was prepared to provide local manufacturers with affordable and advanced active safety systems like AEB and lane-keeping, Landhaeusser said “absolutely.”

“We are a global player and we have a lot of countries where we have all of these systems already. It is not a question of affordability anymore,” he said. “The mass introduction of such technologies also help us to keep prices down. It shouldn’t be a big obstacle at all.”

Previously, the Road Transport Department (JPJ) has announced that the government is looking to gazette regulations regarding AEB and lane departure warning systems by the year 2020 – in total, 126 UN automotive safety regulations are expected to be introduced into the rulebooks by then.

More recently, Proton has been seen testing an Iriz fitted with an Advanced Driver Assistance System (ADAS), while Perodua has just been spotted trialling a Daihatsu Move with a similar system – these sightings could hint at their implementation in future models.