GSR2: It sounds innocent enough. Even when fully spelled out as General Safety Regulations 2. Or even when explained as a list of 18 safety features that new cars must have in order to comply with regulations arriving in three stages: in 2022, 2024 and 2026.

Examples in the initial phase include mandator blindspot-monitoring systems, driver-drowsiness detection and intelligent speed assistance, all there to lend a hand should the statistically weakest link in the mobility chain – the person as the wheel, said to account for 90% of incidents – slips up.

Who can argue, when in the UK alone official statistics suggest that an average of more than four people die on our roads every day, with a further 73 seriously injured? Apply the numbers across Europe and it’s estimated that 25,000 lives and 140,000 serious injuries will be avoided as a result of the regulations by 2038.

But the technology that supports these systems does come at a cost, and for many car makers it’s one that they perceive their customers won’t bear. It’s a reasonable argument. Back when stability control was being encouraged by safety regulators, car makers highlighted the fact that 80% or more of customers were opting to pay for metallic paint but less than 5% for the safety technology that could save their lives. It became mandatory.

So it was that it was decided some years ago that this tech must be present for a car to be sold. One expert recently estimated that each round of changes would add £50-£150 to the cost of every car, ironically with the entry-level models bearing the greatest burden (as their tech needs most updating – speed-limit monitoring, for instance, likely to require a sat-nav and cameras to be fitted in order to achieve the required accuracy).

Sure, that feels a small price to pay for improved safety, but as GSR ramps up every two years, it suddenly amounts to quite a lot, especially when you consider that margins on small cars have long been reported to be less than £500. That doesn’t leave much wiggle room for car makers if customers can’t or won’t pay.

In fact, if industry chit-chat is to be believed, it was enough to finally seal the fate of the Ford Fiesta once it was combined with anticipated costs of meeting the soon-to-land Euro 7 emissions regulations for the internal combustion engine’s swansong; as well as a raft of other city cars and superminis that are disappearing from showrooms.


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