Published on November 7, 2007
A frontal offset crash test between a Honda Accord and a Honda CR-V while both are travelling towards each other at 50kph. More than 95 per cent of crashes occur at 50-65kph.
G-Con optimises the ability of each part of a vehicle's body and frame to absorb a specific type of impact.
The cabin floor, for example, forms a strong and rigid foundation, designed to minimise deformation in an impact. The surrounding frame members are also tailored to control impact forces.
During a visit to Honda's research and development testing facility at Tochigi, Japan, journalists were allowed to witness a live crash test between a new Honda Accord and a Honda CR-V at a speed of 50kph. The crash test was conducted with a 50-per-cent offset, meaning 50 per cent of the Accord struck about 45 per cent of the CR-V, head on.
The experience of watching two vehicles crash into each other at such a speed is unsettling.
It was quite a relief to discover that neither the CR-V nor the Accord had any major intrusions into the passenger cabins.
Honda's testing facility covers 10,000 square metres and has no pillars obstructing the floor. Vehicles can be made to crash at its centre at eight different angles, starting from head on (zero degrees) and increasing by angles of 15 degrees all the way to 90 degrees. They can also stage a 180-degree impact. On each occasion, 36 high-speed cameras capture the event at speeds of 1,000 frames per second.
Honda's engineers explain that crash tests are normally staged in the range of 50-64kph, because more than 95 per cent of accidents occur at these speeds. About 40 per cent of all accidents also occur at an offset of about 50 per cent.
At the Tochigi R&D centre more than 700 cars are tested every year, three or four per working day. Each test can cost between Bt2 million and Bt4 million, while each crash dummy - the life-sized figures that represent the driver and passengers - can cost between Bt3 million and Bt4 million. Fortunately, the dummies are reusable. Each vehicle takes between half a day and two days to set up with sensors and dummies for a crash test.
The facility also does crash tests on motorcycles. Honda was the first company to build an air bag into a motorcycle in 2005. The new system, which can help lessen the severity of injuries caused by frontal collisions, is available on the new Gold Wing motorcycle.
An important fact to note is that all crash tests are conducted with the engines turned off, because the facility is indoors. So crash testing still does not fully incorporate the dangers of real-world driving.
A sad statistic is that pedestrians make up 21 per cent of all traffic-accident deaths, with poor visibility at night being the main factor. More than 70 per cent of accidents involving pedestrians occur at night.
Honda's first move towards solving this problem is the creation of a pop-up hood system. In a crash, the hood is pushed up, so that a pedestrian's head travels a shorter distance before striking the car.
Second, Honda's infrared night-vision system helps drivers to see pedestrians at a greater distance. A pop-up display screen above the steering wheel, within the driver's field of vision, shows pedestrians as white figures against a black background.
The Luxury LS 460 is a wonderfully comfaortable car fitted with all mod cons, althoough not necessarily the most fun vehicle to drive.