Minicar Crash Safety

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January 27, 2015
Edward Smith


Crash Testing Minicars

In recent crash testing, minicars (such as Fiat 500 and Honda Fit) were the worst-performing group with regard to safety in the small overlap frontal crash test.  Only one minicar achieved an acceptable rating in that category, the Chevrolet Spark.  That particular test measures the result of a front corner of one vehicle in a collision with another vehicle or object.  Twenty-five percent of the tested vehicles’ front end comes in to contact with a set obstacle at 40 miles per hour.  The small overlap front crash test bypasses the tested vehicle’s front end crush zone, making it more likely for the occupant’s compartment to collapse in the collision.

Of course, common sense would tell us that these very small vehicles have a built-in safety disadvantage, so choosing one with the highest rating possible with regard to occupant protection is crucial.  With the exception of the Chevy Spark, every other minicar rated marginal or poor for structure, which is the most important element in terms of protecting the vehicle’s occupant(s).  If the vehicle’s structure fails during a collision, the risk of injury is high.

Frontal crash tests must stay within the vehicle’s weight class, and these are light vehicles.  Obviously, they would fare much worse in a frontal crash versus a heavier vehicle.  Unless or until everyone on the road is driving a minicar, choosing one as your vehicle will put you and your occupants at a disadvantage in a crash with a larger vehicle.  Of course, many have chosen that increased risk in order to save at the gas pump, or for environmental purposes.  However, there is absolutely no denying that these vehicles represent an exchange of fuel efficiency for safety.

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