Industry journal Automotive News reports the new frontal collision test conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), which sees just 25 per cent of a vehicle's front-end impact with a deformable barrier, has some manufacturers concerned the modifications required to improve test results could impact negatively on fuel efficiency, handling and cost. The standard crash test currently employed is a 40 per cent overlap crash conducted at 64km/h.
IIHS President Adrian Lund told Automotive News the small overlap crashes showed the typical energy-absorbing structures located on the front middle 50 per cent of vehicles were never engaged. Rather, the front wheel receives the force first, which the institute says accounts for 25 per cent of the 10,000 fatal frontal collisions that occur in the US each year.
Lund said manufacturers will likely make changes that will see impacts absorbed prior to contact with the front wheels and an improvement in occupant compartments to prevent wheels being pushed back into the foot well.
According to the report, Honda has expressed its issues regarding the follow-on effects on handling, ride comfort and fuel economy, but said in a statement that it will begin making "enhancements" to the body structure on upcoming vehicles this year. Also in a statement, Mercedes-Benz called the test an "unusually severe and correspondingly uncommon accident scenario" that put its vehicles at a disadvantage.
The IIHS plans to release its initial crash test results of 11 mid-sized luxury vehicles, including the 2012 Mercedes-Benz C-Class, this week.