Basically, cruise control plus some kind of sensor system to notice what is in front of you (camera, radar, lidar, wtf) and some hardware/software to use the telemetry sensibly to maintain following distance. I believe I will be getting this as part of one of the option packages on my i3 (which is supposedly through production).
In the JD Powder 2012 write up, it was about $1500.
When Matthew Debord wrote about his experience with ACC this fall (and this is a guy who writes about the MS auto team's wacky analysis), it was a $1000 option on a Ford Fusion. Definitely has reached mass market.
I'm looking around for other instances where I can get some insight into pricing when these kinds of incremental changes enter the market vs. some years later when they become typical of the market or at least widely available. I don't have _any_ sense of how fast pricing drops on The Fancy Stuff (such as power windows and power steering back in the day, and ACC and back up cameras today). If you know of a source -- or even if you have some rule you use in your own head -- I'm interested.
ETA: A little blast from the past. Pricing for ACC on Ford models in 2009.
$1200 was a steal at the time, versus $2000 or more, but the coverage was focused on getting below $1000.
ETAYA: In the 2014 model year, the Prius Plug-In got some standard features including ACC ripped _out_ to help bring the price down. They were still available as a tech package, with the total coming in less than the 2013 price.
ETA OMG! I'm sending you to the wayback machine. Google found me, I got 404'ed, pulled it out of the cache, but wanted to give you a link that might still work when you read this.
This is awesome! I occasionally (ha!) mention that I used to have a Treo phone and a folding keyboard and moved all my accounts online and yada yada yada back in like 2003. And then everything went to shit and I was entirely back on paper or near enough a few years later. Very annoying. This time around it is sticking, tyvm.
In 2004, the Sierra had a top trim level that included Dynamic Cruise Control. It was an expensive trim line, but the economy was going good and people were excited about the feature. "Personally, I thought it was the start of a new era, where all cruise control would be radar/laser-guided in the years to come." Me and the Treo! In almost the exact same time frame (boy, I could tell you things about what happened to RCA back in the oh never mind).
"it became a chore to manage for the remainder of the trip. ... it is programmed to stay hilariously far away from obstructions. ... it could only use engine braking to slow the van. [loud!] ... it would annoyingly floor the throttle to get back up to speed [also loud!]"
The punchline is a bit lengthy, but at least I didn't have to live it!
"The ultimate insult to injury is that the adaptive cruise control in the Sienna works by using input from a laser sensor in the front bumper’s air intake – you know, the area that is usually damaged when rocks are flung up from the car in front, or you hit a cone or a tall curb. It didn’t take much to kill the laser sensor, and it would stop working even if the lens was dirty. Imagine that, the front of a family van getting dirty! When the system detected dirt or a dead sensor, you would not have cruise control unless you told the van you wanted it to stay in non-guided mode from the moment you started it up, and then never dropped below 40kmh after that. So, the alternative to doing this hokey pokey was to replace the $1000-$2500 sensor, which needed hours of labor to align. Let’s reiterate. Rock hits your front bumper (normal occurence), you can either spend $2500 to fix it, alter your normal driving routine, or drive your $40,000 van, now without cruise control."
This is probably why we all prefer options to cost under $1000. That way it doesn't hurt so much when they break down or annoy us.