I was struck by the arresting difference in these two photos, from the IIHS’ recent tests on roof strength for small SUVs. The first, the Volkswagen Tiguan, looks like as if it didn’t go through the test. The second, the Kia Sportage, looks like a safe was dropped on it from ten stories up.
The Kia spokesman, who undoubtedly has some explaining to do, noted that the IIHS rating, “by itself, does not provide a complete assessment of a vehicle’s ability to protect occupants in these complex events.”
Well, this actually makes me feel even more leery; the IIHS performs one simple test — in reality, in a complex real-world event, there’s that many more ways for the roof to collapse, or for something else to go wrong.
Given the cost discrepancy between the VW and the Kia, this brings up an unfortunate reality of the car business — safety features cost money. I am reminded of a slide (pictured below) of a presentation by Tom Wenzel, which shows how car resale value is associated with risk. Of course, we can’t chalk this up entirely to “vehicle factors,” as we need to know who’s driving each kind of vehicle, how much and where they’re driving, etc. etc.
This distinction is not generally made in the media; as one will see articles like “the ten safest cars on the road.” But those are drawn from crash tests, not real-world insurance claims and fatality/injury figures. Perhaps “theoretically safest cars” is better. Wenzel’s presentations also do a great job of showing the complexity of car safety — e.g., that there’s more to it than sheer mass (there’s a weak relationship between weight and car safety, he notes, unless one accounts for the manufacturer; in other words, the quality of vehicle design seems more important than sheer size).
This entry was posted on Tuesday, March 31st, 2009 at 6:05 am and is filed under Cars, Traffic safety, Uncategorized. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.