The European Union has finally decided by law that starting from November 1 2014, all new cars intended to be sold in Europe must be equipped with ESP. And all the credits must go to Mercedes-Benz, for introducing the ESP 20 years ago.
Daimler-Benz presented its dynamic handling control FDR in March 1994, a safety system which was jointly developed in Sweden together with Bosch. Just a year later, the system celebrated its official market launch under the current name: Electronic Stability Programme.
The ESP represented a further milestone in the field of active safety. The system was first launched on a Mercedes-Benz S 600 Coupe (C 140) and a few months later appeared in the S-Class saloon (W 140) and the SL Roadster (R 129). However, the Mercedes-Benz A-Class was the model which had the honour of being equipped with ESP in large unit numbers, in response to the “moose test”.
“If all cars were equipped with the stability programme, over 20,000 of the serious accidents that result in over 27,000 victims on German roads could be avoided,” said Dr. Thomas Weber, member of the Board of Management of Daimler AG responsible for Research and Technology.
Things escalated quickly and the ESP’s major safety role was aknowledged by Mercedes-Benz by August 1999, when it became standard-fit equipment on almost all Mercedes-Benz passenger cars.
We now know its history, but there is still a question to be answered: how does ESP work? Well, basically, ESP identifies driving situations approaching critical road-hold limits – such as evasive maneouvres – and helps the driver in stabilizing the vehicle by breaking individual wheels and adjusting the engine output accordingly.
The Electronic Stability Programme also reduces the risk of skidding and maintains the vehicle’s directional stability even in critical conditions, for example on surfaces covered by ice or water. Oversteer is corrected by applying brake to the front outer wheel, while understeer is controlled by applying brake to the rear inner wheel.