International Auto Show
by Eddie Wren
Page Under Ongoing Construction
were countless auto journalists at the two press days for the 2005
International Auto Show.
And with a vast 1.2 million square feet of display area, there was more
than enough to keep us all thoroughly occupied for both of the days.
sheer size of the Chicago show makes it the largest in the USA, each year, and
it is debatable whether there are any larger motor shows in the world.
happily admit that it's always great to be at events like this, and to
see the wraps coming off the latest, sleekest or most beautiful addition
to various car makers' lines -- the Jaguar Advanced Lightweight Coupe, above,
was a classic example on this occasion, even though it had made its true
debut at Detroit, four weeks earlier. But despite occasionally falling
to the temptation of drooling over beautiful cars, I
was at the Chicago auto show to check out as many of the latest safety developments as I
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is hard to know quite where to start, but for safety engineering Subaru is definitely as
a good a place as any.
goal, at Subaru, is to provide the best in both active and
passive safety, and we feel that the combination of all-wheel-
drive and the low center of gravity provided by the boxer engine
[left] gives superior control and accident avoidance
capabilities," their National Manager of Corporate
Communications, Michael Whelan, told me.
terms of passive safety, we continually seek to improve the
safety incorporated into every Subaru vehicle," he said.
curtain airbags are standard on all Legacy and Outback models,
as are dual-deployment front airbags.
new B9 Tribeca has dual-deployment front airbags, side impact
airbags on the front row seats and curtain airbags on the first
Impreza got 'best pick' status from the IIHS, as did the
Forester, and the Forester was the first vehicle to get a
'double good' from the IIHS for occupant safety in front and
side impacts," he added.
from Symmetrical All-Wheel-Drive transmission that was on display, above
left, Subaru also had a B9 Tribeca cutaway on display, showing the
AWD and the low profile
engine on display at Chicago
Photo copyright Eddie Wren,
intricacies. But from a safety point of view it's
arguable that the most interesting aspect was seeing the sections for
added strength in the roof. After all, too many large vehicles in North
America have roofs that may collapse if the vehicle rolls
over, as SUVs and pickup trucks are prone to do due to their higher
centers of gravity.
however, it can be the overlooked, seemingly little things that
can make so much difference to a driver.
the large areas of the USA and Canada -- and many other
countries in the world -- that get hammered each winter with ice
and heavy snow, it is hard to see why not all manufacturers fit
wiper blade heaters at the base of the windscreen, such as those
shown right -- the orange-colored heater elements -- on a
Subaru Legacy GT.
copyright Eddie Wren,
life without the annoyance and potential danger of having ice continually
re-forming on the wiper blades! Between the windscreen heater vents
helping clear the glass and these things preventing ice from encasing the
blades.... well, that's enough said. Guess what I will want on my
the biggest crowd at Subaru, however, were a pair of
simulators, manned -- if that's the right word -- by two young
PR ladies. But as pretty and as chatty as the ladies were, boys will be boys
and all the guys' attention seemed to be fully focused on who
could get the fastest time on the simulators.
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wasn't the only company with a racing simulator but the other
one came from an unexpected quarter.
the forthcoming season, the AAA are sponsoring a NASCAR
racing car as a way of getting their message in front of the 75
million fans who follow the sport.
of Subaru's two GT simulators
copyright Eddie Wren,
AAA sponsored several racing events back in the early 1900's," their
spokesperson Nancy Cain told me. "And we are proud to do so again
because racing has been responsible for a good number of safety
innovations, such as rear view mirrors, and hydraulic brakes.
AAA view this as a win-win situation for everyone. We wish to draw
attention to driving safely, and we wish to appeal to a younger audience.
The AAA has been a friend of the motorist for over 100 years."
AAA/NASCAR simulator was actually two -- one for each front seat in the
blacked-out shell of a race car.
have to race me!" said Nancy.
the lady had spoken; I had my orders. Nancy took the right-hand seat (Hey!
That's mine. I'm the Brit. Remember?) and I was on the left.
fact that I got away from the line slightly ahead of Nancy didn't seem
to impress her too much, so she rammed me from behind and spun off.
doesn't count!" she said, after the first race. "I spun
I detect women's logic in there, somewhere?
are going again," she announced to Gary and Kathy Hoeft, from Roush
Racing, who were running the simulator with one of their colleagues.
was warm work -- enough for me to have started to perspire on the first
race -- so off came my jacket. And as for which of us won the second race, you'll
have to guess. Either modesty forbids me from saying or I got put in my
place; you work it out. In any event, I will humbly admit that my average
speed was nowhere near that of the top journalist, over those two press
days -- whoever that was.
a postscript to this AAA section, we can add that on March 22, 2005, the AAA
issued a press release, as follows:
behalf of the six AAA clubs in The Auto Club Group, I want to offer warm
congratulations to Carl Edwards on the occasion of his first victory in a
NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series race," Charles Podowski, president/CEO of The
Auto Club Group said today. "Carl's dramatic finish in the Golden Corral
500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway on Sunday is a tribute to his driving skill and
persistence and the excellent support he receives from his Roush Racing
Teammates. The Auto Club Group is proud to be one of Carl's primary sponsors
for this year's NEXTEL Cup season," Podowski said....
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auto maker that has risen meteorically to the forefront of vehicle
safety engineering over the past few years is Honda.
their press event, we were addressed by John Mendel, Senior Vice
President of American Honda Motor Co., Inc. (Below,
talked about the new Odyssey minivan and the Accord Hybrid -- both
introduced in 2004 -- and the Ridgeline pickup truck, which goes on
sale on March 1, he moved on to unveil the stunning new Civic Si
Concept. (Above, and below,
is just a concept," he said, as many journalists were doing low
whistles, through their teeth. "But it gives a very clear
indication of what will appear in November, at SEMA, in Las
Honda treated us to a sound recording of the new car's DOHC-i-VTEC
200hp engine.... Deep-throated rally cars eat your hearts out!
back to one of the 2004 introductions, mentioned above, Honda had an
Odyssey minivan on
static display, and there is little doubt that this vehicle has nudged
aside the Toyota Sienna as the safest family van on North American
front-side, and three-row curtain airbags;
Compatibility Engineering (ACE);
and rear crumple zones;
four-ring safety cell (through the roof and floor);
PAX® system run-flat tires (on the Touring
at a show like this, how many people stand and read detailed messages on
background display boards?
would hazard a guess that it is not many because most people are too busy ogling
at the new hardware, yet on the Honda stand there was almost a surfeit of
believe you deserve advanced levels of safety regardless of the price
of your car or the size of the vehicle that meets your needs.
call this approach "Safety for Everyone" through
technology and innovation because we are developing new levels of
protection for the driver and all passengers in Honda and Acura
vehicles... while also making an active commitment to improve safety
for the occupants of other vehicles... and even pedestrians.
a leader, Honda looks beyond government regulations, studying real
world situations to develop new safety technologies and then rapidly
applies the most effective of them across our product lineups.
Honda, in 2000, we opened the world's first indoor, multi-directional
crash test safety facility, located within our major Research and
Development Center, in Japan.
2003, we added a new Automotive Safety Research Facility to our
R&D Center in Ohio.
of the world's most advanced indoor crash safety research
facilities... these centers conduct an unprecedented variety of tests
to provide Honda with a deeper understanding of what happens in real
world collisions... as the basis for new technologies that advance
"Safety for Everyone."
world's largest indoor crash test facility, in Japan -- as large
as a major league baseball field
took 3 years to satisfactorily create the world's first
"pitching sled test."
in airbag innovation
in collision compatibility (i.e. crash avoidance technology)
in pedestrian protection
in active safety
in passive safety (e.g. crash test ratings)
a general note it is also well worth adding that all Honda and Acura vehicles
-- with the exception of a small number of specialty vehicles -- will get
front side airbags, an Occupant Position Detection System, side curtain
airbags, and ABS brakes, as standard, before the end of calendar year 2006.
all Honda and Acura light-duty trucks, 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.
Compatibility Engineering (ACE) will be applied to all new vehicle platforms
over the next 6-7 years, and Honda will further expand the use of features
designed to help reduce injuries to pedestrians.
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we are on the subject of minivans, Kia used Chicago to unveil their
original Sedona received the company’s first NHTSA Five Star
crash rating for each seating position. The next-generation
Sedona is set to continue Kia’s commitment to offering high
levels of standard safety equipment, including six standard
airbags (dual advanced front and front seat-mounted side air
bags, and full-length side curtain air bags for all three
controlling the front supplemental restraints determine:
position of the seat;
the seat belt is buckled;
the front passenger seat is occupied;
severity of a frontal impact before deployment.
new Kia Sedona made its world debut at the Chicago International
anti-lock brake system (ABS) is also standard. This particular system
incorporates electronic brake force distribution (EBD), which helps to
distribute braking force to all four wheels in proportion to weight
shifts during cornering. EBD adapts to individual wheel grip conditions
and this helps to improve both control and stability.
standard safety equipment will include a tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS)
and active front seat headrests, while features such as an electronic
stability program (ESP) and a traction control system (TCS) with brake
assist will be available as part of an option package.
the debut, the model we saw on display was "still a good nine months
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like all other manufacturers, had their full range of vehicles on
is another company that has established a really good reputation for
safety. Indeed, many say that the new A8 is currently the safest car
addition to its high structural safety, the new A8 has excellent for
restraint systems and crash sensor technology: all components and
their functions are precisely matched and together complete the
saloon's outstanding safety standard.
head restraints are another new feature at Audi. They incorporate a
mechanical system which effectively reduces the risk of whiplash
injuries by pivoting the head restraints forward in a fraction of
side, and side-curtain airbags shown in an Audi A6
in the event of a rear-end collision. The mechanical system is triggered by
pressure on the lumbar support's plate. The head restraint unit is moved
forwards by means of a lever mechanism, thus reducing the gap between it and
the occupant's head.
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close this report, though, I am going to return to the marque
with which I opened -- Jaguar.
XJ Super V8 is the new flagship of the line and is one of three
long wheelbase XJs now available.
apart from the fact that I find the
XJ Super V8 to be a beautiful car, I'm including it in this article because it
is impressively safe, too.
2005 Jaguar XJ Super V8
glorious, supercharged, 390hp upper class lounge on wheels
be fair, if one is going to buy a car that starts at only five dollars
less than ninety grand then one would rather expect it to be exceptional
in all departments, including safety. And I doubt whether anyone would be
disappointed with this latest Jag.
cars in this price bracket have all of the more usual safety features, such as
front airbags and side airbags for the front seat passengers.
model on display also included:
and rear seatbelt pre-tensioners;
child seat tethers (a name more common in Europe for the equivalent to
Brake Assist (EBA);
Restraint Technology System (ARTS);
seat system (it's advantageous having Volvo as a Ford stable mate!).
have two, please! One in British Racing Green (see above!) for use
through the week, and one in white, for weekends and weddings!.... There
again, dark blue would be good.... or a metallic, coppery color...... Oh,
if only....! (And even then I would have to compare the Jag'
carefully with an Audi A8.... Decisions, decisions!)
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