Kurulu Koojana Kariyakarawana reporting from Japan
Japan’s automobile giant Toyota on Monday demonstrated a new crash test format on its latest Hybrid, 4th Generation Prius reaching a new height in the vehicle safety initiatives being used in its products.
An example of a process in the development and evaluation stage was shown to a number of media personalities representing the Asia Pacific region at Toyota’s Higashi-Fuji Research and Development Centre located in the foothills of iconic Mount Fuji.
The first live public crash test in five years was conducted to display the company’s new level of safety measures being applied on its latest Hybrid Prius that would cause minimal harm to the driver and the passengers.
The new oblique crash test was performed to demonstrate the impact of a high-speed collision being absorbed by the vehicle’s body structure that would protect the cabin and its passengers.
Traditionally in crash tests, the collisions are conducted in a straight line. However, Toyota demonstrated a crash test of an object impacting a vehicle at an angle in a high speed of approximately 90kmph. This format of having the vehicle hit at an angle was termed an Oblique Crash Test.
When the body of the Prius was hit at high speed, the vehicle’s body absorbed a large amount of impact and protected the cabin from the crash because of its collision-absorbing body structure. The crash test dummies in the vehicle were also observed to be restrained in their seats with the seatbelt’s pretensioner and the airbags that were deployed.
Thereafter, engineers observed the crash site to collect data that would be used for analysis. The safety features of the Hybrid’s electrical components were also in place to ensure electrical shocks are prevented. This is done by their layout in the car, insulation and by cutting off electric supply in a crash.
Toyota Motor Corporation Assistant Chief of Safety Technology Seigo Kuzumaki said as testament to the safety of the electrical components of Hybrids, since their inception in 1997, there have been no fatalities related to the electric shock of Toyota’s Hybrids. These reflect the advanced safety features of the new Prius, which has been awarded a five-star rating by the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Toyota’s safety features are meant to cover every aspect of driving. The collision-absorbing body structure, seatbelts and airbags that came into view in the crash test demonstration are part of what Toyota terms ‘Passive Safety’, which are features to protect the passenger in the event of an accident.
As vehicle numbers surged in Asia during the past few years, so have the number of fatal traffic accidents. Based on official data, for every 10,000 automobiles, there are 3.1 deaths in Indonesia and Malaysia as well as 2.8 in Thailand, as compared to 0.6 for Japan. This illustrates how traffic safety is an issue that requires urgent attention from all road users, automakers and governments in many parts of Asia, the officials further said.