Electronic stability control (ESC) is vital in helping automakers pass crash tests and produce safer vehicles. But when you take one wheel out of the equation to produce a three-wheel car as Elio Motors is planning, that makes your stability control strategy more, shall we say, interesting.
According to an e-mail from Elio Motors, said the upstart automaker chose to partner with Mando, who have been designing an ESC system specifically tailored to a three-wheel vehicle of the Elio’s layout.
The e-mail said the so-called “Moose Test,” sometimes better known in America as the Consumer Reports Avoidance Maneuver (CRAM) Test, should be no problem for the Elio because of its planned standard ESC system from Novi, MI-based Mando:
Let’s face it, hitting a moose is not good for any vehicle (or the moose). So, over the years, car makers in cold-weather climates such as Sweden and Finland developed a test that entailed steering hard to the left, then steering hard back to the right to simulate avoiding a large mass – or moose – on the road. In the US we call the European “Moose Test” the Consumer Reports Avoidance Maneuver (CR Maneuver or CRAM).
Today, the Moose Test is one of the standards for testing Electronic Stability Control (ESC), one of the most important safety innovations in recent automotive history. A 2012 study from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) found that more than 2,200 lives were saved by ESC from 2008 to 2010.
Safety is such an important focus of Elio Motors’ development, that adding ESC to the vehicle was an obvious choice. Therefore, having a world-class ESC supplier is an important part of the company’s long-term success. Fortunately, Elio Motors is working with its supplier partner Mando, a recent “Supplier of the Year” recipient.
Working from its Novi, Mich., North American Research & Development Center, Mando has developed an ESC system designed specifically to work with a three-wheel vehicle and to provide safety functionality in line with today’s safest vehicles.
What does it all mean to a future Elio owner? Vehicle stability will be enhanced with one of the most important safety technologies available today. And, because Mando (An Automotive Leader of Safety and Convenience Products) has a winter testing facility in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, we’ll make sure our owners are in the best position possible to avoid any moose that happens to cross the road.
The e-mail said today’s ESC systems typically consist of three parts: antilock brakes (ABS), traction control (TC) and stability control (SC). Those components continually monitor inputs from the throttle while also monitoring sensors that feed the system information about yaw A.K.A. that fishtailing sensation you get when the back wheels of your car break loose, lateral and longitudinal acceleration, braking inputs, and steering angle to determine if the vehicle is doing what the driver intended.
If the system determines the car is not playing nicely with the driver’s inputs, then it uses a set of tiny hydraulically actuated valves to precisely adjust brake pressure to each of the Elio’s three wheels, the e-mail said. In addition, ESC can adjust engine torque delivered to each of the Elio’s two front drive wheels to help correct for over- or understeer.
As reported here previously, Elio aims for its eponymous, three-wheeled, $6,800 car to earn a five-star crash safety rating. Even though the car’s reverse-trike layout and front-wheel drive — two drive wheels up front, one “drag” wheel in back — should make it a lot safer than any Reliant Robin could ever dream of, we’re sure the ESC system being tuned specifically for a three-wheel vehicle will help in reaching that five-star safety goal.