GM says new SUVs won't carry rollover warnings

Wednesday, March 28th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

DETROIT (AP) _ General Motors Corp. has stopped voluntarily posting federal rollover-warning labels on its latest mid-sized sport utility vehicles, saying it is not convinced they make much difference.

Ford Motor Co. and DaimlerChrysler AG's Chrysler unit said that the warnings serve a public good and that they will continue placing them in their SUVs, including vehicles that do not require them.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration requires that SUVs with wheelbases, or distances between the center of the front wheel and that of the back wheel, of 110 inches or less carry illustrated warning labels declaring they have a ``higher rollover risk'' than standard autos.

SUVs' increased height gives them a higher center of gravity, making them more prone to tipping over.

GM's 2002 model year SUVs _ the Oldsmobile Bravada, Chevrolet TrailBlazer and GMC Envoy _ have 113-inch wheelbases, about 6 inches longer than their predecessors and enough to clear the threshold for the label requirement.

Although it decided to drop the labels, GM still offers ``numerous warnings'' in SUV owner manuals, spokesman Terry Rhadigan said Wednesday.

``If you stay sober, buckle up and drive within the speed limit, your chances of a rollover are pretty nil,'' he said, adding that ``the one thing we don't have is any indication of a real-world safety benefit derived from these labels.''

GM said its smaller Chevrolet Tracker and its Chevrolet Blazer will continue to have the rollover-warning as required.

Scrutiny of SUV safety was heightened last summer when Bridgestone/Firestone Inc. recalled 6.5 million tires _ most of them on Ford's best-selling Explorer _ because of treads peeling away. Regulators say Firestone tires are under investigation in at least 174 U.S. deaths.