Many years ago, a really sweet lady called and wanted to know why our S80 received 4/5 Stars from NHTSA verses a Camaro that achieved 5/5 Stars. In defending what we do, I offered that we don’t prepare for just one type of real world crash. We are similar to a decathlon athlete in that we look for solutions to many different types of impacts and we feel that our methods produce safe cars.
What was behind her question was what the industry finally figured out – safety sells. It seemed that some auto manufacturers were building cars just to pass tests. Here is what the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) President Adrian Lund said, “Most automakers design their vehicles to ace our moderate overlap frontal test…” which meant that cars had been built to pass tests. I think that was clear when many manufacturers showed a lack of roof crush technology prior to tougher IIHS standards being formulated, meaning that the roofs of many cars passed a standard that Volvo felt was not real world enough. Gosh, going back to 1967 with the introduction of our 140 series, we have three reinforcements in our sedan and four in our wagons to help protect passengers in a rollover.
In the last five to eight years more cars have achieved very good test scores and have truly helped the general population of cars protect occupants better than say 15 years ago. Feeling that more could be done by manufacturers, the IIHS toughened up their test criteria: New Crash Test Aims to Drive Improvements in Protecting People in Frontal Crashes.
Below are the highlights of the IIHS Status Report that was circulated to employees from Bruno our Manager of Safety and Regulatory Compliance here in Rockleigh:
Only 3 of 11 midsize luxury and near-luxury cars evaluated earn good or acceptable ratings in the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s new small overlap frontal crash test.
Volvo S60 earn good ratings, while the Infiniti G earns acceptable. The Acura TSX, BMW 3 series, Lincoln MKZ and Volkswagen CC earn marginal ratings. The Mercedes-Benz C-Class, Lexus IS 250/350, Audi A4 and Lexus ES 350 earn poor.
25 percent of a car’s front end on the driver side strikes a 5-foot-tall rigid barrier at 40 mph. The test is designed to replicate what happens when the front corner of a car collides with another vehicle or an object like a tree or utility pole. Small overlap crashes are a different story. These crashes primarily affect a car’s outer edges, which aren’t well protected by the crush-zone structures. Crash forces go directly into the front wheel, suspension system and firewall.
The test is designed to replicate what happens when the front corner of a vehicle collides with another vehicle or an object like a tree or utility pole.
“These are severe crashes, and our new test reflects that,” Institute President Adrian Lund says. “Most automakers design their vehicles to ace our moderate overlap frontal test and NHTSA’s full-width frontal test, but the problem of small overlap crashes hasn’t been addressed. We hope our new rating program will change that.”
Vehicle test performance varied widely in the three rating categories: structure, restraints and kinematics, and dummy injury measures. Structurally, the Volvo S60 was best. With only a few inches of intrusion, the occupant compartment looked much the same as it did in a moderate overlap test. Reinforcement of the S60’s upper rails and a steel cross member below the instrument panel helped to keep the safety cage intact. Volvo has performed similar small overlap tests as part of its vehicle safety development process since the late 1980s, taking the results into account when designing new models.
The Institute plans to make the top award criteria more stringent by adding the small overlap frontal test to its battery of evaluations. The existing criteria will continue for the 2013 award cycle, but vehicles that excel in the new test will be recognized.
Here is the video showing IIHS’s new type of crash test:
Oh, that sweet lady, how did our conversation end? She wasn’t convinced that the Volvo S80 was safer than a Camaro. I literally gave up, “I’m sorry I can not help you. If you believe a Camaro is safer than a Volvo, go buy it.” She replied that she already bought an S80 and just wanted to know what we had to say in our defense. Sigh.
Bruno was very excited about the IIHS news. Bruno is an engineer, which means to get him excited takes a whole different set of conditions. I’m just wonderfully happy watching Batman, while Bruno bounces out of his seat when he gets crash results like the above. To say we are pleased with the IIHS’s result is an understatement. It is an achievement we are very proud of; and combined with our continued safety research we can meet our Vision 2020 goal of no deaths or serious injuries in a Volvo by the year 2020.