Many of the largest sport utility vehicles and pickup trucks, from the Cadillac Escalade to the Toyota Sequoia, will need to be redesigned to comply with the industry's new plan to make such vehicles less dangerous to people riding in cars, according to the New York Times
A few companies, however, are already largely
in compliance with the industry's voluntary plan to redesign the front ends of light trucks, specifically SUVs and pickup trucks. The Ford Motor Co., for example, has redesigned even its largest SUVs -- including the giant Excursion and the Lincoln Navigator -- in such a way that they already meet the new requirement, the Times
The 15 companies that agreed to the voluntary standards have until 2009 to put safer models on the road. Changes in vehicle design and equipment, which almost all automakers who do business in the United States agreed to last week, are aimed at addressing the safety ramifications of the growth in sales of light trucks, which account for more than half of the passenger vehicles sold in the United States each year.
The alterations could eventually save thousands of lives a year, according to projections made by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and endorsed by the automakers.
Auto executives and lobbyists say that equipping every vehicle with side airbags could cost about $300 each -- on the order of $5 billion at current production levels -- though many vehicles already have them.
"This is a huge first step," said Mitchel Scherba, director for the structure and safety integration center at General Motors.