Consumer Reports pushes carmakers on automatic emergency braking

A red 2018 Chevrolet Bolt EV vehicle is seen on the assembly line at General Motors Orion Assembly in Lake Orion, Michigan, U.S., March 19, 2018. Photo taken March 19, 2018. REUTERS/Rebecca Cook

By Nick Carey

DETROIT (Reuters) – Influential U.S. magazine Consumer Reports on Thursday turned up the pressure on automakers to include automatic emergency braking (AEB) as standard on new U.S. models by withholding its 2019 annual top vehicle picks from best-selling brands like General Motors Co’s Chevrolet.

“We’ve been pushing for this feature for a long time because it’s very good at preventing crashes,” Jake Fisher, Consumer Reports’ senior director of automotive testing, told Reuters. “We have telegraphed for some time that this was coming.”

Millions of prospective auto buyers consult the magazine’s rankings, which are based on road testing, reliability, safety and owner satisfaction scores.

A growing number of new vehicle models now include AEB as standard, including Subaru Corp’s Ascent, Consumer Reports’ 2019 top pick for the midsize SUV category.

Last year Chevrolet, GM’s best-selling brand, won top picks for its fully-electric compact Bolt sedan and its full-size Impala sedan.

GM, which constantly stresses it is aiming for “zero crashes, zero emissions and zero congestion,” did not respond to a request for comment.

This year’s top picks included several wins for Toyota Motor Corp, including for its full-size Avalon hybrid electric sedan and the Toyota Prius. Subaru won for its compact Forester SUV and its mid-size Ascent SUV.

Tesla Inc’s rollout of its mass-market Model 3 electric sedan hurt the brand’s overall standing, knocking it down 11 spots to No. 19 out of 33 brands ranked by Consumer Reports.

Fisher said Tesla’s ramp-up of production of the Model 3 had been accompanied by rising reports of problems with the car’s body, interior, windows and paint, though he added Model 3 owners said they love their vehicles despite reliability issues.

Those reliability issues mean that Consumer Reports no longer recommends the Model 3, Fisher said.

Subaru was ranked as Consumer Reports’ top car brand, followed by Hyundai Motor Co’s luxury Genesis then Volkswagen AG units Porsche and Audi in third and fourth place respectively. Toyota’s luxury Lexus brand ranked fifth.

GM’s Chevrolet brand was ranked 23rd, while the Cadillac brand ranked 26th and GMC 27th.

Ford Motor Co’s Ford brand ranked 20th and its Lincoln brand 8th, but its best-selling F-150 pickup truck was named best pickup.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV’s Chrysler brand ranked 22nd, with its Dodge brand 25th and Jeep brand in 29th place.

The automaker’s Fiat unit finished last among 33 brands rated.

(Reporting By Nick Carey; Editing by Bernadette Baum)

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