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A High Price on Safety: How Automakers Require Consumers to Pay a Premium for Proven Vehicle Safety Features

This study investigated the added cost to consumers of purchasing a model year 2020 passenger vehicle equipped with two specific advanced safety features: blind spot warning and automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection. Both have proven safety benefits, yet consumers are often forced to buy a more expensive version of a vehicle, or an add-on luxury package, to get these features on their car. Researchers used tools available on manufacturer websites to quantify how much consumers must pay above the base vehicle price to get these safety features on the 15 top-selling models in the U.S. The analysis found that blind spot warning was a standard feature on just three of the 15 top-selling models and was unavailable on one. On the other 11, the median manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP) increase required to equip the model with blind spot warning was $2,510, with a range of $590 to $12,285. Automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection was standard on 13 of the 15 top-selling models. Of the two remaining models, it was not available on one, the Ram 1500, and it was available but not standard on the Chevrolet Silverado 1500—at an additional cost of $16,735, an increase of 60 percent over the base MSRP.

For the full study, click here.

For a related press release, click here.

Note: This study was updated to reflect that the increased cost to the Ford F-150’s base price to add blind spot warning is $12,285. This was changed from $15,805 based on information received from Ford after the study was posted.