BELMONT, Calif. (Reuters) - Volkswagen AG <VOWG_p.DE>, the world's No. 1 automaker, will offer automatic braking and other crash avoidance systems as standard or optional features on most 2016 models sold in the United States beginning later this year, the company said on Wednesday.
Volkswagen said it will offer systems that can bring a car to a full stop from about 18 miles (29 km) per hour when the vehicle’s sensors detect an imminent crash. At higher speeds, the automatic braking system will slow the vehicle but may not bring it to a full stop, VW senior engineer Michael Rohlfs said in a presentation to journalists.
VW will offer other automated features to help drivers stay in a lane and automatically maintain a safe distance behind another vehicle in traffic. Several VW brand models will also get new technology to automate the process of steering into a parallel parking space or backing into a perpendicular parking space.
VW overtook Toyota Motor Corp <7203.T> as the world's largest carmaker by sales in the first half year, achieving its long-held ambition three years ahead of target. But staying on top will be a challenge and it is driving to boost U.S. sales.
Volkswagen announced its plans to push new collision avoidance technology, along with upgraded infotainment systems, at its Silicon Valley research laboratory.
The push to add advanced safety features and infotainment features such as Apple Inc’s <AAPL.O> Apple CarPlay and Google Inc’s <GOOGL.O> Android Auto smartphone integration systems, or apps to connect the car systems to smart watches, are part of the brand’s effort to guarantee a spot on shopping lists.
U.S. and European regulators are pushing automakers to make automatic braking that can prevent or mitigate collisions more widely available. Toyota earlier this year said it would offer automatic braking on a wider range of U.S. models at prices ranging from about $300 to $500.
VW said automated safety features would be standard on higher-priced versions of models such as the CC, Golf, Jetta and Touareg sport utilities, as well as a redesigned Passat sedan expected later this year. On entry level models, adding the advanced safety features could cost up to $1,500, a VW spokesman said.
(Reporting By Joseph White; Editing by Tom Brown)