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Common Tread

EU mandates "eCall" SOS system for all new cars; are motorcycles next?

Jan 24, 2018

As of April, all new European automobiles are required to have eCall, a vehicle-integrated emergency call system that can alert first responders in the event of an accident. 

The tech is already available on some BMW models in Europe, and it could be mandatory for all Euro bikes in just a few years. BMW released this video to explain how the system works on motorcycles.

eCall is a standardized emergency response system that automatically contacts 112 (the European emergency telephone number) in the event of a crash. When an accident is detected, a cell phone network connection is used to dispatch help to the scene. Estimates from a cars-only pilot program suggest a 40-50 percent decrease in emergency response time with eCall, which could save 2,500 lives each year. Responders get the vehicle’s exact location, time of accident, and direction of travel (especially important on divided highways). Airbag and sensor data can also be transmitted.

In the motorcycle system, once eCall is activated, riders get to have a conversation with their handlebar, where a tiny speaker and microphone hide. Users also have the option of manually triggering the system in the event of an emergency without an impact, and can cancel the call (maybe by saying something like this) and shut down the bike to call off the rescue. Emergencies without impact could include an accident you witnessed or a personal medical issue.

As more vehicles start to carry the system, response times  are expected to decrease for all kinds of motoring accidents, not just incidents affecting eCall-equipped vehicles.

eCall System. BMW photo.

Automakers have known about the eCall deadline for several years, so the change is no surprise. With support from the ACEA (Association des Constructeurs Européens d'Automobiles), the European Parliament voted in 2015 to require eCall in all new automobiles by 2018. This is the same legislative body that mandated ABS for all new motorcycles over 125 cc. Considering eCall has the support of the ACEM (the motorcycle equivalent of ACEA), eCall could certainly find a home on motorcycles everywhere. ACEM members include Triumph, KTM, BMW, Ducati, the Japanese big four, and even Harley-Davidson.

Funny-shaped black boxes and an efficient safety system — that sounds like BMW to me. eCall System. BMW photo.

While BMW Motorrad has offered eCall domestically since 2016, there would be some technical details to work out before bringing it to motorcycles in the United States. Still, if motorcycle manufacturers are eventually required to provide the system on bikes sold in Europe, it's not hard to imagine they would try to make a little more profit by offering it as an additional-cost option on motorcycles sold in the United States, too.