The new passive safety requirements may well introduce radical changes in the criteria governing the design of car body structures.
A meaningful picture of the onerous consequences which a rigid upholding of current trends could bring about in the small car class is offered by the results obtained during a research program conducted to study the structures of a 1200 lb class production car and a similar 1500 lb class Experimental Safety Vehicle (ESV).
This paper illustrates the successive phases of the program (assessment and improvement of crashworthiness characteristics for the original 1200 lb car, development of a 1500 lb ESV) and gives technical data and details of the tests performed.
The conclusions emerging from the results of this research are somewhat alarming and anticipate serious threats to the very existence of the European small-size economy car.
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