American Honda Motor Co., Inc. on Dec. 4 announced that it has joined in an industry-wide program to improve vehicle-to-vehicle crash compatibility by designing all future Honda and Acura vehicles to meet or exceed new criteria set forth by the industry’s Enhanced Vehicle-to-Vehicle Compatibility Working Group. For Frontal-to-Frontal crash compatibility, Honda said it has already undertaken the task of improving the compatibility of its own fleet through years of research, development and application of advanced safety designs. Accordingly, all 2004 model Honda and Acura light trucks sold in North America already comply with the Phase 1 industry Frontal-to-Frontal compatibility guidelines, according to Tom Elliott, executive vice president of American Honda. “Honda believes that one of the most important strategies to achieving greater safety is to improve the compatibility of all vehicles, large and small,” Elliott said. “We are pleased that this important safety program focusing on compatibility has gained industry-wide participation.” Advanced Compatibility Engineering (ACE) Body Structure Honda said it is taking additional steps to improve compatibility across the full range of Honda automobiles through the application of its innovative Advanced Compatibility Engineering (ACE) body structure. Honda said its commitment to the study of car-to-car crash dynamics led to the opening of what it calls "the world’s most sophisticated indoor car-to-car crash test facility" in Tochigi, Japan, in March 2001. Research at this facility played a critical role in the development of Honda’s Advanced Compatibility Engineering (ACE) body structure, introduced on the Japan-market Life minivehicle this past September. By improving the dispersion of collision forces over a larger frontal area while reducing the potential for vertical or lateral misalignment of vehicle safety structures, the ACE body structure delivers improved protection for vehicle occupants while at the same time reducing aggressivity toward other vehicles in a frontal collision, according to Honda. In an offset frontal crash test of the new 2004 model Japan-market Life mini-vehicle with ACE technology against an Acura RL luxury sedan, the Life sustained substantially less damage than the previous generation vehicle under the same test conditions. Energy absorption of the engine compartment was increased by 50 percent while load on the passenger compartment was reduced by 30 percent. The 2005 model Honda Odyssey minivan and the Acura RL sedan will be the first North American models to feature this new technology, according to the company. The ACE body structure will be applied to all new vehicle platforms over the next six to seven years, Honda said. Phase 1 Front-to-Side Guidelines For Front-to-Side crash compatibility, side-curtain airbags meeting Phase 1 of the industry guidelines are featured as standard or optional on a number of 2004 Honda and Acura models representing about 20 percent of total North American vehicle sales. The Honda-developed side-curtain airbag system features what Honda says is the world’s fastest and widest deploying side-curtain system – and includes “smart-fold” technology that helps reduce the chance of injury to out-of-position occupants. As a part of the company's “Safety for Everyone” commitment, all Honda and Acura vehicles sold in the U.S., with the exception of a small number of specialty vehicles, will feature Side Curtain Airbags as standard equipment before the end of calendar year 2006. Future Frontal-to-Frontal Phases Honda said it also looks forward to participating in the future Frontal-to-Frontal Phases of the industry’s Enhanced Vehicle-to-Vehicle Compatibility Working Group, which will address the reduction of concentrated forces and the stiffness of vehicle front structures across all models. Honda said it will participate in the challenging future Phases of the industry’s Front-to-Side Compatibility efforts that will address improved restraint systems, structures and other methods to achieve even better Front-to-Side crash compatibility among all models. Honda Safety Leadership Through original research into advanced body design, Honda said it developed its proprietary G-Force Control (G-CON) collision safety body technology. "By better managing collision G-forces and redirecting crash energy away from vehicle occupants, G-CON has improved the safety of all Honda and Acura models," the company said in a prepared statement. As a result of G-CON and other Honda-developed safety technologies, an industry-leading five Honda models have earned the U.S. federal government’s top Five Star safety rating for the driver and front passenger in front-impact and front and rear seat passenger in side-impact testing, according to the company. This includes the Civic Coupe, the only compact class vehicle ever to earn the government’s highest safety rating, according to Honda. Safety For Everyone Commitment Honda’s participation with the industry’s efforts to improve compatibility is consistent with its ‘Safety for Everyone’ concept – a comprehensive approach to vehicle safety that seeks to provide high levels of occupant protection for all Honda and Acura vehicles regardless of size or price, along with reduced aggressivity toward other vehicles and improved safety for pedestrians. In keeping with its ‘Safety for Everyone’ commitment, American Honda recently announced plans to apply advanced safety technologies to the full range of Honda and Acura products over the next several years. In addition to the application of the ACE body structure, Honda said it will take the following actions:

  • All Honda and Acura vehicles, with the exception of a small number of specialty vehicles, will get front side airbags, side-curtain airbags and anti-lock brakes as standard equipment before the end of calendar year 2006. Vehicles receiving this equipment, including the lowest priced models, comprise more than 99 percent of American Honda’s U.S. sales volume.

  • All Honda and Acura light trucks sold in the U.S., including all SUVs and minivans, will be equipped with Vehicle Stability Assist (VSA) and rollover sensors for side curtain airbag deployment before the end of calendar year 2006.

  • Honda said it will further expand the use of technologies to reduce injuries to pedestrians. Already, more than two million U.S. Honda and Acura vehicles are equipped with a number of these features including specially designed hood structures, front frame construction and breakaway wiper pivots.