Heralding electronic stability control as the best safety feature since the seatbelt, federal regulators are likely to require OEMs to include the technology on all vehicles by 2011.
A National Highway Transportation Safety Admin. proposal would mandate some form of ESC starting with the '09 model year. The feature also would be required as standard equipment on all '12 model passenger vehicles.
Ford Motor Co. and Toyota Motor Corp. both say all of their cars and trucks will have the safety feature two years ahead of the pending regulations.
NHTSA cites its data showing ESC reduced fatalities in single-vehicle crashes 30% for passenger cars and 63% for SUVs. The agency says full implementation could save 100,000 lives a year.
ESC generally deters rollovers by managing yaw and roll movements via electronic sensors and actuators that shift power away from slipping wheels during hazardous driving conditions or accident-avoidance maneuvers.
NHTSA pegs the average per-vehicle cost to install ESC at $111 for cars and trucks with antilock brakes.
The proposed rule, which is not expected to face much opposition from OEMs, would codify an already growing trend. Almost 29% of all '06 models sold in the U.S., including 57% of SUVs, already come equipped with ESC.