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Euro NCAP

When Euro NCAP was established in 1997 as an independent organisation to conduct safety performance assessments on vehicles sold in Europe, the testing was largely on passive safety. Crash tests were highlighted as they showed how good (or bad) a car was when it collided with an obstacle or was rammed from the side. The levels of protection for the occupants within the car were also assessed, including child restraint systems.

As time went by and more advanced safety systems became common, Euro NCAP began adding them to its assessments. For example, in 2011, it began to include Electronic Stability Control (ESC) in ratings and since 2014,Automatic Emergency Braking (AEB) has also been assessed.

Automatic Emergency Braking test

By giving ratings to numerous areas, Euro NCAP has provided a basis of comparison for car-buyers to make more informed decisions. At the same time, because more ‘stars’ suggested a safer car, the manufacturers also aimed to achieve the maximum 5-star rating by ensuring that their new models met the tough test requirements. In this way, Euro NCAP has been continuously pushing the industry to upgrade safety features and systems, benefitting motorists with safer cars.

As Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) become more commonly included in new models, the organisation has added Assisted Driving systems to its list. These systems are, however, assessed outside the regular overall rating system. The findings are intended for the information of buyers, giving them a better idea of the effectiveness of the systems advertised.

The tests consist of a series of critical highway driving scenarios, such as typical cut-in and cut-out scenarios, designed to show how effectively the system is able to support the driver in avoiding a possible crash. It also evaluates how driver and system cooperate and how the system ensure that the driver remains engaged in the driving task, avoiding over-trust. Finally, the vehicle’s ability to mitigate the consequences of a crash, referred to as safety backup, is tested, in case an accident is unavoidable.

“We have been publishing Assisted Driving gradings for a couple of years now and we are seeing real improvements in system performance. Most manufacturers realise that it is important that drivers enjoy the benefits of assisted driving without believing that they can hand over control completely to the car, and that’s one of the aspects that our assessment considers,” said the Secretary-General of Euro NCAP, Michiel van Ratingen.

The most recent models tested have been the Jaguar I-PACE, Polestar 2, Volkswagen ID.5 and Nissan Qashqai. While the Jaguar (oldest car in the group) had its system is rated as ‘Entry level’, the new Qashqai stood out in this round of tests. With almost perfectly matched scores for Driver Engagement and Vehicle Assistance, the car’s ProPILOT with Navi Link system demonstrated excellent balance between helping the driver and preventing over-reliance. In the area of Safety Backup, the SUV was said to really excel, with an almost-perfect 93%.

Nissan Qashqai

The assistance technologies in the Volkswagen ID.5, one of the carmaker’s range of BEVs (batter electric vehicles), received a “Very Good” rating, and reached 4 out of 4 possible points – the highest possible score. The testers were impressed by the innovative systems of the ID.5 highlighting maximum comfort and an excellent level of assistance.

In the ID.5, Volkswagen uses innovative, fully connected assistance systems, the optional ‘Travel Assist with swarm data’ being the best example. Within the limits of the system, it can actively keep the vehicle in lane and maintain both the distance to the vehicle in front and the maximum speed set by the driver.

Volkswagen ID.5

Among other things, the system uses the Adaptive Lane Guidance function which actively keeps the vehicle in the middle of the lane. However, ‘Travel Assist with swarm data’ is able to adapt to the driving style and can also keep the vehicle on the right-or left-hand side of the lane.

Euro NCAP starts to assess Highway Assist systems

With more and more vehicles – including those from entry-level brands like Perodua and also pick-up trucks – having advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS), Euro NCAP has started to assess some of the systems which assist driving. The independent organisation tests not only the car’s ability to assist and promote safer driving, but also evaluates how such Assisted Driving systems engage the driver and, if the unexpected happens, what safety back-up is offered by the vehicle.

The present focus is on Highway Assist systems, which help the driver to maintain a steady speed, to keep a safe distance from the car in front and to keep the vehicle in the centre of the lane by combining (intelligent) Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) with Lane Centering (LC). Highway Assist systems are designed to assist the driver, not to take control, and the driver is expected to keep his hands on the wheel and his eyes on the road at all times.

Adaptive Cruise Control, using camera or radar (or both), maintains a safe gap with vehicles ahead, regardless of the cruising speed set.

The technology, first offered on more expensive premium vehicles over the past 10 years, has gone mainstream in recent years and is now available on cars in all categories, butt with varying degrees of sophistication and at different price points.

Lane Centering systems, using a camera to monitor road markings, help prevent the vehicle from departing from its lane and endanger vehicles in other lanes or go off the road.

In its previous rounds of Assisted Driving tests in 2018 and 2020, Euro NCAP found some vehicles promised more than they could deliver, implying, through their naming and interaction with the driver that they provide more automation than they were capable of doing. All the cars tested in this round, however, offer a balance between Assistance Competence – the degree to which the system can help the driver – and Driver Engagement – the extent to which the driver feels they must remain in control and not disengage from the driving task.

“This balance between assistance and engagement is crucial. Cars are not yet capable of fully automated driving and drivers should not be misled into thinking that they are. Reports from America have highlighted the very serious problems that can happen when people have an unrealistically high expectation of what such systems can offer, and when the car in which they are driving does not actively try to get them back in the loop. We are pleased that the manufacturers represented in this round of tests make clear the level of support that they can provide,” said Michiel van Ratingen, Secretary-General of Euro NCAP.

2022 BMW iX3 EV
BMW iX3 – rated ‘Very Good’ in Assisted Driving assessment.

Euro NCAP’s first Assisted Driving gradings of 7 models equipped with Highway Assist show the overall best performer as the BMW iX3, which was graded as ‘Very Good’. Two others – the Ford Mustang Mach-E and the CUPRA Formentor – achieved ‘Good’ gradings. The assist systems of the Polestar 2 and the Hyundai IONIQ 5 were graded as ‘Moderate’, while the Toyota Yaris and Opel Mokka-e were considered to offer ‘Entry’ level systems.

The BMW iX3, although a variant of the X3 range, has a new sensor set, not yet available on its combustion-engined stablemates and the grading of its automated driving system applies only to the all-electric version. The Polestar 2 achieved a Moderate grading, limited by its performance in Vehicle Assistance. Polestar will perform an over-the-air (OTA) update of the car’s software very soon and Euro NCAP will again assess the car.

2020 Toyota Yaris Gen 4 Europe-Japan model
Even entry-level models like the Toyota Yaris (European model shown) have systems that can provide the driver with a useful level of support, enhancing safety.

The range of cars tested demonstrated the growing prevalence of Assisted Driving across the spectrum of vehicle categories. Entry-level systems, while offering less functionality than more sophisticated ones, nevertheless provide the driver with a useful level of support, and that fact that they are offered on volume-selling cars shows the direction of travel for automated driving.

Euro NCAP’s tests are set against a rapidly changing legislative background. Technology is developing very quickly and the degree of automation that is allowed and what action the car must take when, for example, it tries to hand control back to an unresponsive driver, is being reviewed. The organisation says its future tests will take these regulatory changes into account.

The explosion that saves lives instead of kills…

Euro NCAP, the independent organization which evaluates the safety levels of vehicles sold in Europe, has developed a dedicated test and assessment protocol, as well as a grading system for its Highway Assist tests. These tests are aimed at ensuring the safe adoption of assisted driving technologies and to provide consumers information to make their buying decisions.

Increasingly, vehicle manufacturers have been making use of the sensor-sets fitted to their vehicles to provide more extensive support to the driver. This is a prelude to greater autonomous motoring that will come in future.

Highway Assist
Highway Assist, the general name for a technology designed to make highway driving safer, helps by reducing fatigue. The system can help the driver to maintain a steady cruising speed, and to keep a safe distance from the vehicle in front. Such systems are generally known as Adaptive Cruise Control and can be found on an increasing number of models.

Adaptive Cruise Control can adjust the set cruising speed to maintain a safe gap with a vehicle ahead.

There is also a system to help keep the vehicle within its lane, with sensors monitoring lines on the road for guidance. If the vehicle is found to be departing from the lane, the driver will be alerted and some systems can also exert force to guide the vehicle back into the correct position in the lane.

However, the driver always needs to be responsible and engaged behind the wheel – the assisted system is there to do just that – assist. The systems are not flawless and should not lead or have full control, at least not at this stage in semi-autonomous motoring.

A camera monitors road lines to determine the position of the car in the lane, and the system will alert the driver if the car deviates from the lane.

The test series has so far covered 10 models that offer Highway Assist – the Audi Q8, BMW 3-Series, Ford Kuga, Mercedes GLE, Nissan Juke, Peugeot 2008, Renault Clio, Tesla Model 3, Volkswagen Passat and Volvo V60.

Euro NCAP’s new assessment protocols focus on two main areas: Assistance Competence – a balance between the technical competencies of the system (Vehicle Assistance) and the extent to which it keeps the driver alert and engaged (Driver Engagement) – and Safety Back-up, the car’s safety net in critical situations.

A unique grading system – similar to the 5-star safety rating – helps consumers understand the conclusions of the tests and compare assistance performance at the highest level. Each model falls into one of 4 categories: Entry, Moderate, Good and Very Good.

The findings
Three models in the premium segment – the Mercedes-Benz GLE, the BMW 3-Series and Audi Q8 – were graded Very Good, achieving a good balance between offering a high level of driving assistance but keeping the driver engaged and in control of the driving task. They also provide a good crash avoidance back-up system and respond appropriately if the driver becomes incapacitated while the car is in assistance mode.

BHPetrol RON95 Euro4M

High volume sellers Renault Clio and Peugeot 2008 were both given an Entry grade. Lacking the sophistication of the more advanced systems tested, they provide a relatively modest level of assistance, ensuring that the driver is not disengaged from the driving task.

Tesla’s pioneering role in self-driving technology is reflected in its top scores for Vehicle Assistance and Safety Back-up. However, its Autopilot system was found to do little to keep the driver engaged. Its distinct steering strategy gives the impression that either the car is driving itself or the driver has full control, and the system is more ‘authoritarian’ than cooperative. Grading-wise, the car is badly let down by its performance in Driver Engagement and ended up ranked ‘Moderate’.

The Volkswagen Passat, Nissan Juke and Volvo V60 were also graded as Moderate. In particular, the Volvo, already on the market for a few years, shows that rapid advancements made in driving assistance technology require more frequent updates to keep up with premium cars. Finally, Ford’s latest Kuga achieved a Good grading, demonstrating that well-balanced, advanced systems are also available on mainstream mid-class vehicles.

Improved driver monitoring necessary
“Assisted driving technologies offer enormous benefits by reducing fatigue and encouraging safe driving. However, manufacturers must ensure that assisted driving technology does not increase the amount of harm incurred by drivers or other road-users compared to conventional driving. The best systems offer a balance between the amount of assistance they provide and the level of driver engagement – and should be supported by an effective safety back-up,” noted Dr. Michiel van Ratingen, Euro NCAP Secretary General.

“The results of this round of tests demonstrate that driving assistance is fast becoming better and more readily available, but until driver monitoring is significantly improved, the driver needs to remain responsible at all times.”

Euro NCAP assessments become tougher in 2020 with new protocols

Safety is an important factor that car-buyers consider when shopping today. There is an expectation that occupants will be well protected in the event of an accident and avoid serious injuries. At the same time, with advanced technologies, electronic systems can help a driver avoid an accident.

Organisations such as Euro NCAP and ASEAN NCAP regularly evaluate new models in the market, going to the extent of crashing and ramming them to simulate accidents. Their findings provide car-buyers with independent assessments to make more informed decisions when choosing their next car.

Renault Captur crash test
Renault Captur crash test by Euro NCAP.

Core competence since 1920s
For Renault, the subject of safety has been a core competence for a very long time. In fact, as far back as 100 years ago, the company already installed active safety systems in its cars which today are commonplace. In 1922, for example, the company was one of the first manufacturers in the world to equip its 6-cylinder models – the 18 CV and 40 CV – with additional front wheel brakes. At that time, braking was typically at the rear wheels. In addition, Renault offered a patented brake booster for the powerful 40 CV with 9.1-litre engine.

Renault 40 CV (left) and Juvaquatre
Renault 40 CV (left) and Juvaquatre

From 1937 onwards, the introduction of independent wheel suspension in place of the rigid axle also brought a significant increase in safety reserves. That same year, the Juvaquatre compact car was the first Renault model to have the modern chassis design on the front axle.

The Juvaquatre, produced between 1937 and 1960, was also the first Renault model with a self-supporting body. It was lighter than the frame construction that was dominant at the time and offered higher impact safety. Some of the principles of its construction would be followed in later years in all car bodies.

Accident research
As far back as 1954, Renault was already studying the effects of vehicle accidents in order to make safer cars. This was done at a centre for accident research located in the Paris area. It became the place where every new Renault model would be thoroughly tested, including crash-testing, heralding the era of modern, systematic safety and accident research.

A crash test in the 1950s

Back then, the crash tests were quite ‘basic’ and compared to today’s high-tech tests, the procedures would even be considered ‘archaic’. The Renault researchers simply sent cars crashing into trucks and then examined the outcome on different areas of the car. There were no sensor-equipped crash test dummies back then so a lot relied on visual examination and analysis.

Destroying a car was also significantly more expensive than it is today. This is why, in the 5 years between 1955 and 1960, Renault only crashed around 100 vehicles. In comparison, the company conducts up to 400 crash tests a year today and 10 times more in computer simulations.

Another facility that Renault established in the 1950s was the Laboratory for Physiology and Biomechanics. This institution was under the direction of a physician and its role was to support the development departments in designing safer and more comfortable vehicles.

Today, Renault conducts up to 400 crash tests a year and 10 times more using computer simulations.

In 1969, the laboratory’s name was changed to reflect its expanded function – the Laboratory for Accident Research, Biomechanics and Studies of Human Behaviour. Its task was to investigate real-world accidents with scientific methods and use the findings to further improve safety standards in Renault vehicles.

Safety vehicle prototypes
Renault’s basic research in the field of passive safety culminated in 1974 in the BRV (Basic Research Vehicle) prototype. In addition to a crash-optimized structure with an energy-absorbing crumple zone at the front and a fixed safety cell for the passengers, the vehicle had 3-point seatbelts for all seats,  including the rear. The inclusion of seatbelts was significant because at that time, seatbelts were compulsory only in France and only outside of towns.

Renault BRV and EPURE safety vehicles
The BRV (left) and EPURE safety vehicles

In 1979, the EPURE concept vehicle took up the body concept of the BRV, supplemented by reinforced side members and padding in the doors as protection in the event of a side impact. For the first time, there were also precautions for pedestrian protection and gas generators that would tighten the seatbelts in the event of a crash. This was the birth of the pyrotechnic belt-tensioner, which Renault introduced in 1993 and was one of the first carmakers to do so.

Automotive safety will continue to be a central part of all product development at Renault. Drawing on multiple resources, it constantly develops new technologies, some of which are pioneering, that raise levels of occupant protection. Today, the brand has one of the safest model ranges in Europe, with vehicles across all classes – from the compact Captur to the Koleos – able to score the maximum of 5 stars in Euro NCAP’s evaluations.

Click here for other news and articles about Renault.

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Since 1997, the European New Car Assessment Programme – better known as Euro NCAP – has conducted independent assessments of new vehicles sold in Europe for consumers’ information. The assessments include crash tests (but are not the only aspect) as well as other active systems influencing safety performance.

While several European governments, motoring, consumer and insurance organizations support the work of Euro NCAP, their star ratings – summaries of the results from assessments – are not specified in vehicle safety regulations. However, Euro NCAP has, over the years, been influential in pushing manufacturers to incorporate new and better safety systems as they have become available and affordable.

Consumers refer to the star ratings and other information in the reports to help them in deciding which model to buy. Naturally, a maximum 5-star rating is ideal but sometimes, this means a higher cost so the consumer can make an informed choice to settle for 4 stars instead. In some cases, very poor scores will affect sales as consumers understand that they will not be sufficiently protected in the event of an accident.

Every 2 years, Euro NCAP updates and toughens its testing processes, adding new requirements in order to score maximum points. This year, new tests are introduced to address some longstanding needs in occupant protection, improve post-crash protection and promote the latest advanced driver assistance technology.

A key change is the implementation of a new moving barrier to the moving car frontal crash test, replacing the regulation-based moderate offset-deformable barrier test, used by Euro NCAP for the last 23 years. This new crash test not only evaluates the protection of occupants inside the car, but also assesses how the cars’ front-end structures contribute to injuries in the collision partner.

Important innovations are the Mobile Progressive Deformable Barrier and the unique method to rate vehicle compatibility, as well as the first adoption of the world’s most advanced ‘THOR’ mid-sized male crash test dummy.

THOR crash dummy
Inside the advanced THOR dummy used for recording effects on the human body during a crash.
Euro NCAP
To the public, Euro NCAP’s assessments may seem to be all about crash tests but the organisation also evaluates other safety systems.

Side impacts account for the second highest frequency of death or serious injuries. The latest updates to this area of the safety assessment include adjustments to the near-side barrier test speed and mass, increasing the severity of the test. More significantly, Euro NCAP will for the first time evaluate far-side impact protection, focussing on driver protection and the potential interaction between driver and front seat passenger. With the latter test, the protection offered by new-to-market countermeasures such as centre airbags can be adequately verified.

Euro NCAP continues to test the latest generation of crash prevention and driver assistance systems. New, challenging test scenarios are added to rate AEB technology for cars and vulnerable road-users. In addition, the first step is taken to evaluate Driver Status Monitoring systems, designed to detect driver fatigue and distraction, as part of the Safety Assist assessment.

Euro NCAP Child safety
Child restraint systems and provisions for protecting children are also evaluated.
AEB Euro NCAP
Since 2013, Euro NCAP has also been assessing Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB), influencing more and more manufacturers to offer the system which automatically brakes the car.

Improving your car’s safety isn’t just about more airbags or better driver assistance systems. Post-crash safety too plays a vital role in crash survival. In partnership with the International Association of Fire & Rescue Services, Euro NCAP has developed new rating rules to promote better post-crash safety. Manufacturers will be rewarded when rescue information is accurate and easily available. Euro NCAP also checks ease of extrication, electric door handles, etc. and endorses advanced eCall functions.

Euro NCAP

The organisation believes the impact of these updates, as well some other minor changes, will be significant. Therefore, consumers must be careful when directly comparing the latest results with ratings from previous years. What stays the same is that only vehicles that perform excellently in crash protection, post-crash and crash avoidance – and the ones that car buyers should look out for – will achieve the top 5-Star rating.

The success of Euro NCAP has inspired the establishment of similar organisations in other regions, including Southeast Asia where there is the ASEAN NCAP.

Mazda CX-30 is the safest model tested by Euro NCAP to date

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Best in Class 2019

After assessing 55 new models in 2019, Euro NCAP has announced the ‘Best in Class’, noting that 41 of those models achieved top scores. This makes 2019 one of the most impressive years on record since Euro NCAP started to evaluate consumer safety of cars on the European market.

Mercedes-Benz regained its crown in the best performing Small Family Car category with the CLA. This is the sporty alternative to the A-Class Sedan, the winner of last year’s Best in Class. It achieved a score of more than 90% in three of the four areas of safety and delivered the best overall rating of the year. Remarkably, Mercedes-Benz launched 5 more 5-star vehicles in 2019, all with outstanding crash protection and driver assistance technology.

Mercedes-Benz CLA
Mercedes-Benz CLA
Tesla Model 3 and Model X
Tesla Model 3 and Model X

Tesla also made a strong appearance in 2019’s tests. The Model X is 2019’s winner in the Large Off-Road category, with the SEAT Tarraco in second place. The Tesla Model 3 is top of the ‘Electric and Hybrid’ vehicle class and, together with BMW’s 3-Series, shares top spot in the Large Family category. The two cars ended up with identical overall scores, the BMW scoring better in pedestrian protection, and the Tesla edging it in Safety Assist. Skoda’s new Octavia is the runner-up in this category.

BMW 3-Series
BMW 3-Series
Subaru Forester
Subaru Forester

In the combined Small Off-road/Small MPV class, Subaru won with the new Forester showing excellent all-round performance. Mazda’s CX-30 and Volkswagen’s T-Cross were close followers in this category.

Mazda CX-30
Mazda CX-30
Volkswagen T-Cross
Volkswagen T-Cross

Despite missing out on the top spot, Mazda had an excellent year in the tests, with the Mazda3 turning in an exceptional performance in Adult Occupant Protection and taking the second place to the Mercedes-Benz CLA in the Small Family Car category.

In the Supermini class, there was a tie between the sporty Audi A1 and top-selling Renault Clio which have been among Europe’s most popular and desirable hatchbacks for years. Their latest generations arrived in 2019 and came out equally well in Euro NCAP’s tests, while the newcomer Ford Puma was the runner-up in this category.

Audi A1 & Renault Clio
Audi A1 & Renault Clio

The Supermini segment remains the most competitive in the European market, as illustrated by the presence of 3, 4 and 5-star cars in the list. Euro NCAP said the winners deserve extraordinary credits for their uncompromising stance on safety.

Finally, a special mention was made of the new BMW Z4, the only roadster tested in 2019. It has unquestionably set a new safety benchmark for the segment.

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The New Car Assessment Programmes (NCAPs) of various countries and regions are conducted by independent organisations and though the scores awarded are not required by authorities in any country for a vehicle to be homologated for sale (provided the vehicle meets regulations). However, consumers pay attention to NCAP scores so as to be better informed when they are considering a vehicle to buy.

Since the mid-1990s, Euro NCAP has been conducting such a programme which includes crash tests. Over the years, the organization has progressively raised its standards and the criteria has evolved, challenging carmakers to make their cars safer and safer. Achieving the maximum of 5 stars and high scores in the various categories of testing can help a model’s sales in the market where buyers are increasingly concerned about safety.

CX-30 has near-perfect score
In its latest series of tests on new models sold in Europe, Euro NCAP’s results show that the new Mazda CX-30, a subcompact crossover between the CX-3 and CX-5, achieved a near-perfect 99% score for Adult Occupant Protection (AOP), besides the maximum of 5 stars.

Mazda CX-30 Euro NCAP

The model, which shares much of its DNA with the all-new Mazda 3, now tops the list for this part of the assessment against Euro NCAP’s 2018/2019 protocols. The highest ratings on record have been at the 98% level with the Alfa Romeo Giulia, Mazda3, Volvo XC60 and Volvo V40.

The CX-30’s impressive AOP score was gained by getting maximum points in the different impact tests (side, pole and barrier). Many vehicles don’t perform so well in the pole test where the vehicle is sent sideways smashing into a pole.

Mazda CX-30 Euro NCAP

The report said the passenger compartment remained stable in the frontal offset test, with good protection of the knees and femurs of both the driver and passenger. A similar level of protection would be provided to occupants of different sizes and to those sitting in different positions.

The standard autonomous emergency braking system or ‘Smart Brake Support’ (SBS) performed well in tests of its functionality at the low speeds, typical of city driving, at which whiplash injuries often occur. With collisions avoided in all test scenarios, the CX-30 scored full points in this part of the assessment.

Mazda CX-30 Euro NCAP

Reducing pedestrian injuries
The protection offered to the head of a struck pedestrian was good over almost all of the bonnet surface and adequate over much of the rest. Good protection was provided to pedestrians’ legs by the bumper and protection of the pelvis was also rated as good at all test locations.

The SBS can detect vulnerable road-users like pedestrians and cyclists, as well as other vehicles. In tests of its reaction to such road-users, the system performed adequately, with collisions avoided or mitigated in most scenarios.

Mazda CX-30

CX-30 for Malaysia?
Bermaz Motor has confirmed that the CX-30 will be available for the Malaysian market but when it will be in showrooms is not known yet. Given the high demand for the new CX-5 (in Malaysia as well as other markets) which is assembled at the Mazda Malaysia plant in Kedah, it seems unlikely that the CX-30 will be assembled locally. This could mean it will be somewhat expensive with the high taxes imposed.

Visit www.mazda.com.my to know more about Mazda products and services available in Malaysia.

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Since the early 1980s when airbags started to be installed in cabin, millions of people have benefitted from the extra protection and experienced reduced injuries during accidents. The contribution of airbags to saving lives cannot be understated and as new technology has been developed, the effectiveness of airbags has increased.

Preventing head injuries
Now the Hyundai Motor Group (HMG) has developed a new centre side airbag, further enhancing the safety of its vehicles’ occupants. This airbag works to separate the space between driver and front passenger by expanding into the space between the front seats to prevent head injuries of the two occupants.

Hyundai Motor Group

If there is no one in the front passenger seat, the airbag will protect the driver from the effects of a side collision coming from the opposite side. The centre side airbag is installed inside the driver’s seat and will deploy once the impact is sensed.

The new centre side airbag is expected to diminish head injuries caused by passengers colliding with each other by 80%. According to the European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association’s statistics, the rate of secondary damage caused by these kinds of collisions or from hitting interior materials is about 45%.

Hyundai Motor Group

Lighter and simpler
The airbag has an internal component called a tether which allows the airbag to maintain its form and withstand the passenger’s weight. HMG has developed a new technology to simplify the design and reduce the weight of components to produce an airbag which is about 500 gms lighter than the competing products. Thanks to the smaller size of the airbag, the design teams will have more flexibility in the type of seat design they envision for future products.

HMG has applied newly patented technology to maintain reliability but reduce the weight and size of the airbag which will be offered in selected models to be introduced in future. Upcoming Euro NCAP assessments are expected to include side impact into its consideration beginning from 2020 and HMG’s airbag is expected to work favourably in such evaluation.

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Airbags have been in cars since the early 1980s, initially being installed at the front to give additional protection to the passenger and driver. Then airbags were installed at the sides (usually in the seats), giving protection against side collisions. Today, there can be up to 7 airbags on the front and sides of a cabin – curtain airbags over the window openings and a small airbag under the steering column to protect the driver’s knees (the seventh airbag).

Airbags for the rear occupants have been under study for a long time but there have been some issues which are still hard to resolve, preventing them from being offered. For example, the positioning of the passenger is critical and if this cannot be sufficiently controlled, then an airbag could cause injury instead. The mounting point of the airbag would also have to be optimised, especially with the greater area between the passenger and the seat. There are, however, airbags integrated in rear seatbelts available as options in some Lexus, Mercedes-Benz and Ford models.

New dangers from side collisions
While research continues to find new and better solutions in passenger restraint systems, much attention is now also focussed on side-on collisions on the opposite side of the passenger. If the impact is severe enough, it can throw the passenger’s body toward the middle of the vehicle. The latest results from crash tests have shown this, referred to as the far side in professional circles, and it’s dangerous.

Side collision

In certain crash events, the test dummies show that the passenger’s torso could bend over the centre console while the seat belt hold the pelvis back in the seat. As a result, the thoracic spine twists and the cervical spine can be overstretched. The dummy data readings indicate that serious injuries could result.

Far-side safety countermeasures present an untapped area for injury reduction and as far back as 2015, ZF showcased a far-side airbag concept for the first time. Installed in the inward-facing side of the driver’s seat, the airbag can help to provide better protection to both the driver and front-seat passenger.

A new Euro NCAP test requirement
Euro NCAP has now become the first safety organization in the world to react to the far-side problem. The new test requirements that will be introduced in 2020 will expand the scope of the investigations into side-on collisions on the side of the vehicle opposite to the passengers. A total of 16 points within the Euro NCAP are awarded to side-on collisions; in future, 4 of these points will focus solely on the topic of far-side collisions. A car can achieve a maximum of 38 points in all four categories for the protection of adult passengers.

Recent evaluations of the national accident data, collected by the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration from 2004 to 2013, present a detailed picture of the serious injuries that an be caused by far-side collisions: 43% of the injuries suffered were to the chest and abdomen and 23% were head injuries. Around 53% of the chest injuries were caused by contact with the centre console or the backrest, while 21% were caused by the passenger colliding with external structural elements, such as the metal parts of the door.

Different from other airbags
ZFThe design of the ZF far-side airbag therefore focuses on two chambers that are arranged in a specific way to complement each other. “This special design was developed based on the fact that we want to support the head in the upper area as early as possible. The shoulders of the passenger are usually held in place between the two chambers. The entire upper body is therefore better supported on both sides,” explained Dominique Acker, an engineer involved in the preliminary development of side airbags in the Passive Safety Systems Division.

The considerably larger far-side airbag is integrated in the driver’s seat in a similar fashion to a side airbag. In the event of a side-on collision, the airbag control unit can trigger the far-side airbag shortly after the standard side airbag. In order to stabilize the far-side airbag, it is either fixed in place on the seat frame with a strap or supported by the centre console.

It can also be triggered when a collision takes place on the driver’s side. This is due to the fact that if there are people sitting in both of the car’s front seats, lateral acceleration can cause the two car occupants to collide with one another. In this instance, the far-side airbag can help prevent this exact scenario from taking place.

The airbag therefore differs from the front and side airbags: the function of these airbags is to help reduce the body’s momentum by ‘enveloping’ the passenger, while the far-side airbag provides the passenger’s body with more support. “The pressure in the chambers is therefore higher than in most other airbags,” explained Acker, revealing that the airbag will be offered in a compact-class vehicle in 2020.

 

MG’s compact SUV, the MG ZS has been awarded a 3-star safety rating by Euro NCAP, an independent body that classifies vehicle safety based on various frontal and side impact tests. A maximum of 5-stars can be awarded to a vehicle if it copes well with frontal and side impacts as well as offers exceptional level of protection to occupants.

A 3-star rating achieved by the MG ZS, may not be exemplary, but means that the vehicle will provide a satisfactory level of protection during a collision. That said, in both the side barrier test and the more severe side pole impact, the MG ZS scored maximum points. The passenger compartment remained intact, and provided decent protection for driver and passengers.

Harvey France, spokesperson at MG, said, “An achievement of a three-star rating from Euro NCAP is a great result. The body of the car showed great strength in all aspects and the MG ZS scored maximum points in the side barrier and the more severe side pole impact tests, a true testament to the work carried out by the engineering team.”

Built at MG’s facility in Longbridge, Birmingham, the MG ZS is a popular vehicle in the UK as it comes with a relatively affordable price tag, decent looks and a slew of options. This include six way adjustable seating and a touchscreen infotainment system that provides Bluetooth connectivity and support for Apple Carplay.

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