AD #2325 – Escape Struggles in IIHS Test, Car Sales Rebound in March, Where Do Designers Find Inspiration?

April 4th, 2018 at 11:30am

Runtime: 7:30

0:27 Car Sales Rebound in March
1:37 EPA Hands Out Exemption to Large Refiner
3:00 CA Allows Driverless Tests W/O Human
3:48 Ford Escape Struggles in IIHS Passenger Test
5:20 Where Do Designers Find Inspiration?

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50 Comments to “AD #2325 – Escape Struggles in IIHS Test, Car Sales Rebound in March, Where Do Designers Find Inspiration?”

  1. phred Says:

    First: Who are all these “customers” that are clamoring for an AV? It is only the auto press and some designers. Are they attempting to create a demand for an expensive product that no one really needs? Second: The GM “game” of not releasing monthly sales figures is a ploy to hide financial numbers from Wall Street and thus control the stock value on a monthly basis to look “good”!

  2. Wim van Acker Says:

    @small overlap crash test: I am wondering what the practical value of those tests is. The smaller the overlap chosen, the higher the stress impact. By choosing it even smaller than tested today, you could chafe off the entire side of the vehicle, similar to a cheese slicer. But, is it representative for a significant share of the frontal accidents? Would be interested in the opinions of others.

  3. Sean McElroy Says:

    @Wim – More than half of accidents are frontal crashes and the IIHS says, 25% of frontal crash deaths are due to small overlap crashes.

  4. Frederick Schmidt Says:

    Goooo Ford! Remind me to only sit on the driver side of their vehicles. What is going on with Ford?? What idiot bean counter at Ford made this hair brained decision? Makes me wonder what else is decided at Ford by the bean counters? Probably everything…the motto design to a price instead of a spec is the directive.

  5. cozy cole Says:

    Sean, all this safety stuff and we cannot seem to get everyone to install DRL’s. Maybe if we could see the cars on a nice dam rainy day we could avoid the frontal crashes.

  6. Wim van Acker Says:

    @3: I see, thanks Sean

  7. Kit Gerhart Says:

    5 Canada mandated DRL’s many years ago, and the U.S. should do likewise. They cost almost nothing, and have been shown to reduce crashes.

  8. Brett Cammack Says:

    The 3,000+ people who die, on average, every day in non-AVs would clamor for them, if they could.

  9. Lambo2015 Says:

    The overlap tests were created to represent typical collisions that occur on two lane roads when someone crosses the center-line. So although I can understand wanting the same protection for both sides, how often does a collision like that occur? In an effort to make cars more fuel efficient manufacturers are always trying to lose weight, such requirements add more weight.

  10. Lambo2015 Says:

    Sean let me get this strait.. An exemption that would allow refineries to not use ethanol blends will save them money? I thought the whole push to ethanol was to lower fuel costs and our dependency on foreign oil. So how does this great cost saving product save oil companies money if they dont use it?

  11. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Most passenger side small overlap crashes are probably the result of running off the road and hitting trees while texting.

  12. Lambo2015 Says:

    I mean E85 is always cheaper at the pump they say because Ethanol is cheaper than Gas. Not sure why refineries would not want to increase the usage not try and get exemptions.

  13. M Campbell Says:

    Re: customers clamoring for AV. Me=raises hand. I get it isn’t a solution that everyone is looking for or needs, but the improvement it would bring to my life is profound. More travel, more time with family, more work productivity; in short a better quality of life.

  14. Drew Says:

    Sean and Frederick, I happen to know quite a lot about the IIHS Small Overlap test. IIHS struggled mightily to develop a test that emulated the physical damage they saw in the real world. So, they increased the test speed. When you slam a vehicle into a rigid barrier, that higher speed creates exponentially more energy on the occupant.

    The reason why IIHS couldn’t emulate the same damage at real world speeds has to do with the extraordinary lengths IIHS went to find fatalities in small overlap accidents. As it runes out, people survive the small overlap collision. The relatively few fatalities IIHS found were the result on a concatentated accident (e.g., the vehicle careened into a building, embankment, etc.)… which is why IIHS could not emulated the damage in a single event test.

    Yet, IIHS promoted this new test as necessary to save lives. It doesn’t. It does embarrass OEMs to add structure that also improves low speed damagability, which is a higher cost of business to the insurance industry. When an OEM is designing a new or major change vehicle program, they can integrate the IIHS countermeasures in a manner wherein other design actions can be incorporated to offset the weight penalties. In the interim, an OEM will either take their media lumps or do a minimum action… because weight offsets aren’t easy to incorporate and there is little/no real world safety benefit for this test.

    In reality, every IIHS test protocol in the last decade has been based on anecdotal analysis… not real science (I will not say “fake science”). With collision avoidance technologies (active safety) becoming standard equipment in the next 2 years, we have to wonder about the societal value of continuing efforts on passive safety.

    Sorry for the long reply. I await the criticism from the bleeding heart IIHS faithful.

  15. Frederick Schmidt Says:

    subsidies make E85 cheaper at the pump but it usually returns lower mpg. When I travel to the midwest I use it and sometimes my mpg does suffer and sometimes it doesn’t. I have seen as much as 50 cents per gallon difference between the two blends. The subsidy should go away and allow the market determine the outcome in my opinion.

  16. Lambo2015 Says:

    #4 It was most certainly an engineering decision to design the Escape to pass the required crash tests outlined by the NHTSA. So when the IHS conducts tests that are not a requirement the results will vary. It would be like testing your new Dodge Challenger for Dukes of Hazzard jumps and wonder why it fails. It was never built with that test in mind.

    Everyone would love to have a vehicle that sips gas like moped, has power of a muscle car and is as safe as an armored tank. Only problem is a few laws of physics prevent that from happening at least with today’s technology.

  17. Frederick Schmidt Says:

    Drew…all of what you stated is fine. The point to the consumer is, is your vehicles designed in the best manner to protect my riders/family. If Ford decides my Wifes protection in a Ford’s passenger seat isn’t worth the extra designing then I’ll spend my money elsewhere. I drive all over the country and have seen all types of accidents and I don’t want a vehicle that a bean counter makes this decision to save money/weight or whatever. Remindes me of the Pinto.

  18. Frederick Schmidt Says:

    16. It doesn’t matter its still a poor decision and money/profit per vehicle is the priority as with any busniness.

  19. Drew Says:

    Frederick, please understand that simply adding reinforcements has othe safety consequences. It make the crash energy stiffer, which can cause higher and dangerous energy loads in other crash events. This is the key reason adoption of countermeasures are done in a new or major change program when the engineers have more components they can tune to balance all the requirements.

    Please do not assume the worst. Bean counters do not make the decision. Those engineers put their families in these vehicles, too.

  20. Kit Gerhart Says:

    E85 has about 2/3 the energy per gallon of E10, so it delivers about 2/3 the mpg. At stations I’ve seen, in both Florida and Indiana, the cost per mile would be lower with regular E-10. Cost per mile would generally be lower with E85 than with premium E10, but it seems that most flex fuel vehicles are regular burners, like Tahoe and Suburban. An exception is the M-B CLA and GLA, which need premium. Using E85 in those might be cost effective.

  21. Lambo2015 Says:

    #18 Frederick,
    Like any other business OEM’s are not just around to build cars and trucks for the sake of providing transportation. Its a business and requires you make a profit or you dont last very long. You have a ton of federal requirements to meet from emissions and safety. These requirements often conflict as more safety features add weight and added weight means more emissions.
    So testing standards are established and based off those tests the cars are designed to protect the occupants with those tests in mind. Meanwhile hitting their weight and fuel economy targets. So now have the IIHS throw in a random test, and its no surprise some vehicles perform badly. OEMs cannot economically build a vehicle with every possible test the IIHS comes up with after the fact. Soon the IIHS could be testing the roof for falling space stations and when the highest safety rated vehicle fails, does it make it a bad vehicle that some bean counter didnt allow money to make the roof out of 1/4 inch steel? Thats how ridiculous your assessment of the Escape is.

  22. Frederick Schmidt Says:

    Drew, Ford made the driver side better in the test, why not the passenger? I know you just don’t stick in extra metal or bracing, but the proper changes should have been made and not have a test show Fords poor result. Bean counters do make decisions and its real shame the decision maker doesn’t value their passengers as much as drivers safety. You and I won’t agree on this subject and I’m glad other brands do design passenger side protection better than Fords Escape. The test results show this difference.

  23. Kevin Anderson Says:

    Alcohol has less energy density than gasoline and alcohol made from corn is more expensive to make than gasoline. Alcohol could be made from natural gas at a much lower cost, but that would not be “renewable”. Natural gas based alcohol would still help with security issues. However, if security were a real issue, you could just restrict import sources to just Canada and Mexico and solve the problem pretty quickly.

  24. Drew Says:

    Thank you Lambo. And the thick the roof, the heavier the roof and the higher the center of gravity… making it more prone to rollover by IIHS’s criteria. Of course, it didn’t matter to IIHS that stiff roofs mean less energy absorption, meaning a more violent rollovers. Ah, the Law of Unintended Consequences. But engineers have to deal with these things. IIHS does not.

  25. Frederick Schmidt Says:

    21 I your opinion its ridiculous. Your example of a falling space station shows your train of thought. The test is a type of accident that happens, go to a salvage yard and you will see it. If crash tests were not done, we would still be driving around less crash worthy cars. It was companies like Volvo who showed other auto makers that safety can be designed into cars and still be a success.

  26. XA351GT Says:

    #15 How exactly is E85 cheaper when you use more of it to do the same distance. Personally I’d like to see it all gone. Turns gas mileage to crap eats up parts. Not much of a win at my viewpoint .

  27. Drew Says:

    25 – The scenario may be far fetched, but IIHS does have a test that requires a roof to withstand 3.5 time the vehicle’s weight. There are consequences for heavier roofs (as I mentioned in 24) and thicker pillars (obstructed visibility).

    Again, IIHS does not care about the consequences. They only care about promoting their anecdotal agenda (to keep in the media, which keeps funding alive from its member insurance companies).

  28. Lambo2015 Says:

    #25 as Sean mentioned according to the IIHS half of crashes are front end and half of those are overlap so your already down to 25% and of those, how many are passenger side? I bet its way less than half. So yes a lot more probable than falling space stations but at some point the safety has to be justified with actual risk.
    My point was tons of tests could be created that would embarrass many manufacturers including Volvo if the car isnt built with that test in mind. Its easy to go back later and say a vehicle wasn’t safe like the Pinto or the GM truck side-saddle gas tank. Both instances where the vehicles passed all government required tests at the time they where built and then were subjected to an impact that it was not designed for. These types of things force design changes on future vehicles but its impossible to design a vehicle for every possible accident while keeping it economical. Sadly everything has a cost justification including safety.

    Simply put because 100 cars a year catch fire should the makers install a fire suppression system? Adds $200 to every new car but your protected for that one in a 20 million chance your car is the one that catches fire. Is everyone willing to pay for that safety?

  29. Frederick Schmidt Says:

    26 Yes your right and I would like to see it all gone too. Why I sometimes got the same mileage is hard to determine, maybe conditions on certain roads at certain times. When I travel in Iowa and nebraska on I80 is the only time I compare because of the long stretches of straight flat road with light traffic.

  30. Chuck Grenci Says:

    E-10 will yield 3% less fuel mileage (just from the BTU yield of the mixture); this is hardly noticeable, so generally no uproar from the users. When you go to E-85, as Kit mentioned, the BTU content is approximately 30% less than E-0 so this is definitely noticeable, so this is an environmental decision (unless you sell corn), but as others have said, there are other concerns in that ethanol isn’t efficient to produce, special modifications are required in the vehicle to run it, and the return of ‘green-ness’, is arguable. Even E-15 is dangerous to most of small engines (utility/marine engines) but being politically correct (e.g., feel good) it gets support from the politicians and the corn lobby.

  31. Frederick Schmidt Says:

    28 The problem this time is with a Ford car. It may be with BMW or Chevy next time but they received a “good” rating and the test gives buyers information to decide whether or not to buy an Escape. Also there was an issue with the airbags not deploying. We can all decide what to buy and what we want in a vehicle and that is as important as the test results.

  32. Kit Gerhart Says:

    15, 29 If you don’t ALWAYS get substantially lower mpg with E85, something is wrong with your fuel system, and you are probably running way rich on regular E10. Either that, or the “E85″ you sometimes get is actually much lower ethanol content than 85%, in which case you got a good deal, because the pump price was lower than for regular gas.

  33. Kit Gerhart Says:

    If an engine were designed to run ONLY on E85, efficiency would improve, because they could take advantage of the high octane number of the alcohol. A friend uses E85 in a drag racing car, and can run higher compression than with any pump gas. The down side is that he has to get his fuel directly from a plant that mixes the stuff, and get close to exactly 85% ethanol, rather than the random content between ~50-85% of pump E85. He has a friend who works at the mixing facility. He might have a hard time getting what he needs, if he didn’t have a “connection.”

  34. Drew Says:

    @31 I expect and hope to hear more about the non-deployment of those side air bags. I bet they were suppose to deploy, but something went wrong… either in the test set-up or in a faulty sensor.

  35. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Should the side air bags necessarily deploy in what is, basically, a frontal crash?

  36. Frederick Schmidt Says:

    32 The engine is running great, the fuel economy is above the rating and no evidence of soot on the tailpipe or other signs of bad fuel/air ratio plus my mechanic where I go for work checks for signs of poor engine performance each time the oil is changed. Yes who really knows what is in the tanks when you buy the gas and mix in whatever is left in my tank when refueling can skew the results..also my Honda has cylinder deactivation?Earth Dreams engine version and in Iowa and Nebraska I can go for many many miles with that feature working so there is another wildcard in the mix. Some of the gas stations in Iowa and Nebraska are out in the hinter lands where I travel so enforcement of contents could be lax if at all. In NJ where i live we only have the gas mandated by law for summer winter blend. So comparing is not possible.

  37. Drew Says:

    Kit, the vehicle rotates in the offset impact to a rigid barrier. So, there is a purpose for the side air bag to keep the head from rolling off the side of the frontal bag.

  38. Frederick Schmidt Says:

    On the NHTSA website it says both frontal and side airbags are generally designed to deploy in moderate to severe crashes.

  39. Lambo2015 Says:

    Not positive but my guess is if IIHS changed the offset enough it could be missing the sensor that deploys the side curtain bag. The automakers build to meet the federal standards not Insurance Institute. They are an independent firm like Consumer Reports.

    On E85 regardless of its performance or efficiency I still dont understand how on one hand they can sell E85 cheaper than regular and then say by not getting an exemption to blend ethanol is going to cost them money.

  40. Frederick Schmidt Says:

    Here are two links to read about pricing. Then there is the subsidy and taxing done by the states.

  41. Frederick Schmidt Says:

    I posted two links about fuel pricing but they may not get posted because it says comment is awaiting moderation. One link was Nebraska/gov link and the other was a fuel wholesaler both about pricing. Are we not allowed to post links on the comments page? I don’t know.

  42. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Thanks for the comments on the air bags. I’m still in the ’90′s on that technology, when side bags were new, and had separate, high-G sensors to deploy them.

    Brazil has the right idea for producing ethanol. They use sugar cane, a much more “fermentable” crop for the purpose than corn.

  43. Frederick Schmidt Says:

    Algae may also be a source for the production of ethanol.

  44. RickW Says:

    Regarding Ethanol in gasoline. All I can buy here in my area is gas with 10% blend.

    I have had nothing but some expensive problems with the 10% ethanol in my small engines and my motorcycles. Also, there are currently no motorcycle manufactures that will warranty an engine using 15% ethanol, which the nanny states keep saying they are going to mandate.
    I don’t know about all the other small engine manufacturers. And what about our “Vintage” vehicles” that demand real gas.

    I would at the very least like the option to buy 0% ethanol, real gas, for all my vehicles.

  45. Kit Gerhart Says:

    My 41 year old John Deere lawn tractor has been working fine with E10 for about 35 years. My motorcycles also have no problem with E10, but they are newer. What are these engines that have a problem with E10, other than very old ones with shellac coated cork floats?

  46. Chuck Grenci Says:

    My motorcycle also runs very well with E-10, however I have had problems with small garden equipment cracking fuel lines and a few start problems. I use a fuel stabilizer but do fear that E-10 and small engines don’t always play well together. E-15 is not what I care to look forward to; separate pump and non shared hose would be the only way I would want to see that incorporated into the fueling system. Ethanol, still, in my opinion, doesn’t make too much sense (at least the way it is currently produced and distributed in the U.S.).

  47. Kit Gerhart Says:

    I think I’d want to avoid E15 with my 1970′s lawn tractor. I don’t have any weed eater type engines with diaphragm carburetors, but they may have more alcohol problems than other engines.

  48. Lambo2015 Says:

    #42 That again is people passing mandates without considering the actual implications. Increasing ethanol content isn’t like removing lead. Which now that I think about it its funny that they still specify it as unleaded gas since I dont know of any place that still sells gas with lead.
    Anyway I surprised you have problems with your small engines as they tend to be even more forgiving without the electronic controls and emission equipment. Go-carts are converted to run ethanol all the time and its typically a carb modification to the jets. You do need more fuel.

  49. Kit Gerhart Says:

    There is a station near me in Florida that sells E-0, but you pay about 40% more, to get 3% better gas mileage. I’m not interested.

  50. Todd T Says:

    Small offset is pretty simple to understand. Those questioning “real world” examples don’t seem to be aware that IIHS stands for Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. It’s a non-profit funded by auto insurers. Who knows what accidents cause the most damage ($$$$ lost)? Well, of course those who are paying the claims. So when something like small gap comes around it is because it is the financial loss from that type of accident had become the low hanging fruit to go after. Period. It’s completely logical, far more so than NHTSA to be honest, and IIHS has driven vehicle safety far more than NHTSA has in the past two decades. NHTSA has become useless; case in point, as already mentioned here: DRL’s! Though as with any regulations people will complain, because of course corporations are going to do the “right thing” of course. Does anyone remember how much derision there was about that last major regulation NHTSA made? Hard to believe it but it’s been a long time since the CHMSL or as the anti-regulation people liked to call it “Dole’s dopey light” was implemented, so no wonder they are reluctant to mandate DRL’s.