Strength of the 2016 Pilot & the Unpleasantness at VW
The 2016 Honda Pilot is based on Honda’s new Global Light Truck Platform structure. And the “light” in that name also goes to the consequence of the development of the SUV, which is about 300-lb. lighter than the model it replaces.
Yes, it is lighter. But as Brian Bautsch, Lead Safety Engineer, Honda R & D, who worked on the Pilot explains on this edition of “Autoline After Hours,” the 2016 model is a vehicle that was designed from the very start—from the point when they were putting pixels on a screen and running simulations before the vehicle existed—to provide high levels of safety for occupants through design and materials engineering.
Consider, for example, the materials used. There are seven different grades of steel, all the way to 1500 MPa ultrahigh strength material. That represents 21.3% of the body structure. There are 1300 MPa door reinforcement beams and 1500-MPa, hot stamped front door outer stiffener rings. The ultra-high-strength steel components are laser welded.
Bautsch explains how the various types of materials—and even the joining methods used between parts—were carefully assessed with regard to how they would contribute to crash-energy management.
(For those who equate nonferrous materials with “advanced” automotive engineering, know that the hood and front bumper reinforcement beam are aluminum and there’s a cast-magnesium steering hanger beam. What’s more, there is even structural foam used in such places as the B-pillar stiffeners, inside a bracket connecting the left- and right-hand center frames under the front door and inside the tailgate openings to provide additional stiffness (and to contribute to better NVH). Bautsch, again, points out that material selection was predicated on use.)
In terms of structural engineering for safety, the 2016 Pilot features what they call a “3-Bone” structure under the floor that setup pathways for crash energy management. One path goes directly underneath the cabin while the other two go to either side.
And the 2016 Pilot uses the second generation Honda Advanced Compatibility (ACE) body structure that not only helps with crash energy management in the case of a frontal collision, even the small front overlap types. Additionally, the ACE body structure reduces the possibility that there would be an over- or under-ride with a vehicle with which it collides.
The Pilot received 2015 TOP SAFETY PICK+ rating from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) when equipped with optional front crash prevention, so clearly the team did their job exceedingly well.
Bautsch talks about all of this and more with host John McElroy, Detroit News auto critic Henry Payne and me on the show.
Then, because last week’s auto news was entirely dominated by the Volkswagen diesel engine scandal (people in Wolfsburg were probably thanking Gott the Pope was in the U.S., thereby providing some coverage minimization), McElroy, Payne and I, along with former powertrain engineer and former editor of Car and Driver Csaba Csere talk about the technical and managerial issues related to the “defeat device”—actually software—installed in 2.0-liter TDI “Clean Diesel” [sic] engines installed in various VWs (and the Audi A3) from 2009.
“What were they thinking?” sort of sums up the discussion.
But VW isn’t the first company to resort to such technical trickery. And—the potential of enormous fines and possible criminal prosecution notwithstanding—VW probably won’t be the last.
See it here.
If there’s one thing (and it may be the only thing) that the aluminum and steel industries agree upon, it’s this: We’re leaving the steel era and entering an age of automotive material options, where there are combinations of different materials, not just one dominant material.
Honda is an engine company.
A young(ish) guy that I’ve known for a number of years, a man who spent the better part of his career writing for auto buff books and who is a car racer on the side, mentioned to me that his wife has a used Lexus ES Hybrid.