Honda Addresses Airbags
At the 2019 New York International Auto Show Honda showcased something in its stand that OEMs would otherwise seemingly like to pretend doesn’t exist: a vehicle “driven” into a wall with a crash test dummy behind the wheel.
An HR-V after the crash. (Image: IIHS)
Honda showed the 2019 HR-V that the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) had put through its crash-test paces.
Explained Henio Arcangeli, Jr., senior vice president of Automobile Sales at American Honda Motor Co., Inc. and general manager of the Honda Division, "Safety performance is an important factor in the purchase decision of most car buyers regardless of vehicle size or price, and we wanted to display how well our entry SUV, the Honda HR-V, performed in one of the most stringent collision tests in the world."
Arcangeli added, "By having a crashed HR-V on display at the New York Auto Show, media and consumers will be able to see first-hand how the HR-V performed in the IIHS test, with dramatic, real-world visuals to showcase our safety rating leadership and our commitment to Safety for Everyone." (The 2019 HR-V, a subcompact crossover, incidentally, earned IIHS “Good” (which is good) ratings for driver-side small overlap front, passenger-side small overlap front, moderate overlap front, side impact, roof strength, and head restraints and seats, all of which speak to structural capability. Honda has long been using its Advanced Compatibility Engineering (ACE) body structure for crash energy management.)
When they use the slogan “Safety for Everyone,” they’re not kidding.
How seriously Honda is taking safety goes beyond the show floor to the operations of Honda R&D Americas, where Honda engineers worked with those from safety technology supplier Autoliv on the design of a new airbag.
Airbag has four inflatable chambers and is designed to “catch” the occupant’s head. (Image: Honda)
This isn’t simply a “project,” but something that will be implemented in Honda vehicles in the U.S. starting next year.
The airbag is designed to mitigate potential injuries from a variety of frontal impacts, particularly those that occur on an angle. In those situations, lateral collision forces can cause an occupant’s head to “rotate severely” or to slide off the airbag, which is, well, you can imagine.
Instead of having a single inflatable compartment, this next-generation airbag has four: a center chamber, two outward projecting side chambers, and a sail panel that stretches between the two side chambers at their outermost edge; it is this sale panel that catches and decelerates the occupants head and because of its positioning, it acts to pull the two side chambers toward the head to keep it from getting out of position.
Like all essentially all OEMs, Honda is aggressively pursuing electrification of its powertrains. And it is also, in large part though its investment in GM Cruise, working on the development of autonomous vehicles.
But it is worth noting that all of that notwithstanding, the company is still recognizing that safety is paramount.
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By James Gaffney, Product Engineer, Precision Grinding and Patrick D. Redington, Manager, Precision Grinding Business Unit, Norton Company (Worcester, MA)