Cost is the biggest reason that every vehicle doesn’t have blind spot monitors, which provide visual and/or audible warnings when another vehicle is near. In addition, expensive new safety technology typically shows up initially on luxury models and over time becomes available in lower-priced models as the cost comes down.
Such is the case with blind spot monitoring systems. Volvo was one of the early adopters, but note that it was a $700 option on the 2012 S60 sedan, a car that starts at more than $30,000. If you want that feature on an Infiniti M56 (base price $60,600), it is included in a $3,000 option package that also has lane departure warning, adaptive cruise control, braking assist and other features.
Blind spot monitoring is trickling down to less-expensive models, such as the 2013 Ford Fusion. You can buy a $1,000 package that includes a blind spot monitor on the SE model, which has a $24,495 base price including destination.
Ideally, a safety feature such as blind spot monitoring will eventually be available across the board, but manufacturers face intense price pressure in market segments like subcompact and compact cars. Few cost-conscious buyers are likely to spend $700 or more for an optional safety feature. More would probably opt instead to spend that money on a sunroof, better stereo or a navigation system.
Electronic stability control started as a safety feature on high-end vehicles, and now it is required on all cars and light trucks. Federal safety regulators are working on rules that would require backup cameras to be phased in on all vehicles, and a few years from now they could decide that blind spot monitors also should be required.
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