NEW YORK --- Most cars at auto shows are highly polished and gleaming, except one -– a Ford Taurus that crashed into a 1 million pound wall at 35 mph en route to the Jacob Javits Convention Center. Deliberately.
Ford wants New York International Auto Show visitors to see how the Taurus -– rated "Top Safety Pick" by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) -– fared in a 35-mph crash test. Positioned in the same place occupied by the seated crash-test dummy, showgoers view video of the actual crash test.
"We want people to see what happens in the blink of an eye," said Stephen Kozak, North American safety chief engineer for Ford Motor Co. "We want to open people's eyes that not all cars are created equal when it comes to safety. There is a difference and we want to show why Taurus is the safest rated large sedan sold in America."
A car crash can literally happen in the blink of an eye -– 100 milliseconds, or about a tenth of a second, from start to finish. In that brief span of time, safety belt pretensioners tighten the belt, frontal air bags are inflated to the appropriate level, and the forces of the crash are being deflected by the structure of the vehicle designed specifically to help protect occupants inside.
The crashed Taurus test car is expected to be a popular display at the show -– and not just because it looks so different from all the other vehicles. More than 50 percent of car buyers call safety a major purchase consideration.
The crash test was conducted at Ford's testing facilities in Dearborn, Mich., prior to the show. The company conducts hundreds of crash tests and thousands more simulated computer tests on a yearly basis for its vehicles.
"A crash can happen to the best of us, and it may happen before you have time to react," Kozak said. "So we believe the best way to react is to buy the car equipped to help protect you when the unexpected happens."
Taurus models equipped with optional AdvanceTrac electronic stability control have earned the highest available rating of five-stars for rollover resistance from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Taurus earned five-star ratings from NHTSA for both driver and front passenger in a frontal crash test and five stars for both the driver and rear-seat passenger in a side impact crash test.
The IIHS also gives Taurus top marks -– "good" ratings -– for frontal, side and rear impacts.
Key features of the Ford Taurus safety story include:
* Ford's exclusive side impact protection system, featuring side curtain airbags that helps protect front and rear outboard passengers in both rollovers and side impact crashes. The curtains are designed to slip between the occupant and the side window. The safety canopy is designed to stay inflated for several seconds, as rollover crashes often last much longer than side impact crashes.
* SPACE, Ford's side protection and cabin enhancement architecture. SPACE is designed to help protect occupants using a complex configuration of strategically placed long steel rails and square tubes under the car body, along the vertical door posts (or "B pillars"), in between the front and rear seats, and along the roof lines (or "A pillars"). The rails are designed to bend and the tubes compress in a severe crash; this creates 10 different "crush zones" all over the car to help channel crash forces away from the occupants inside.
* The AdvanceTrac electronic stability control system can predict the vehicle's intentions using a sensor to detect and measure oversteer and yaw by monitoring the vehicle's speed, throttle position and steering wheel angle. When the system senses wheel slip, engine torque is reduced and braking is applied where needed to help keep the car tracking safely on its intended path.
* Ford’s Belt-Minder, a safety belt reminder technology for the driver and front passenger that takes over after the initial safety belt reminder stops chiming. If the driver or front passenger remains unbuckled, the system chimes and flashes a warning lamp for six seconds every 30 seconds for five minutes or until the driver buckles up, whichever comes first.
* Personal Safety System, a suite of seven protection technologies working together as a system to help protect occupants, including dual-stage front air bags and occupant classification.