For those that are of a mind to take it in, here’s a Saab press release published today on the subject of safety. It covers the various safety features within the Saab vehicle range and a little of the development process. If you’re interested in this sort of gear, you might like to check out Saab’s Innovations as well.
Optimized through Real-life Experience
· Crash test configurations based on ‘real-life’ research
· Safety structure with front and rear crumple zones
· Front structure to distribute impact forces along three separate load paths
· Side impact protection with ‘pendulum’ B-pillar
· Saab Active Head Restraints (SAHR) for front seats
· Dual-stage front airbags
· Head/thorax side airbags
· Maximum 5-star EuroNCAP crash test rating
· ESP®, TCS, EBD, ABS all fitted as standard
Saab Automobile AB (Saab) has a long tradition of successful work with vehicle safety. In surveys of real-life collisions made by the US Highway Loss Data Institute (HLDI) and the Swedish insurance company, Folksam, many Saab cars have scored well, several times being ranked best in their segment. In EuroNCAP crash tests, the Saab 9-5 Sedan, 9-3 Sport Sedan and 9-3 Convertible have all achieved a maximum five stars.
The most recent survey by the Swedish insurance company Folksam, published in April 2005, analyses the results of real-life car to car accidents involving 138 different models and found the Saab 9-5 and 9-3 hatchback to have lowest occupant injury risk of all.
HLDI also confirms an above-average safety record for the Saab 9-5. It represents American insurance companies and analyses the damages paid out after accidents. Analysis shows the 9-5 sedan is 53 per cent above the average and the 9-5 wagon is 39 per cent above the average for comparable models in the luxury medium-class range.
Crash Configurations based ‘Real-Life’ experience
Computer simulations and crash testing at Saab are designed to replicate what happens in real collisions on real roads, based on the findings of a database covering more than 6,100 real-life accidents, including the Saab 9-3 and Saab 9-5, on Swedish roads.
During the development of the Saab 9-5, the structural design and the deployment of its occupant protection systems were evaluated not only in consumer and legally required crash tests, but also in a large number of additional in-house configurations, taking occupants of different sizes into consideration. Prototype tests were carried out in the laboratory and outdoors in a wide range of speeds and configurations.
However, advanced crash simulations, using finite element methods (FEM) and drawing on Saab’s extensive experience, help to find solutions before any prototypes are built. Support by simulation is used throughout the development process in structural design, as well as for the tuning of occupant protection systems, such as seatbelts and airbags. As a result, crash tests are increasingly used as a physical means of verifying what is already known.
The steel safety structure of the 9-5’s passenger compartment is fabricated mainly from high strength steel. Most beam sections are completely closed for additional strength and all joints are designed to help prevent tearing under severe impacts.
The front and rear crumple zones are made of carefully shaped steel members designed to help absorb, distribute and deflect impact energy away from the passenger compartment. Three distinct load paths on each side of the 9-5’s front structure are designed to help distribute impact forces through the front sub-frame, along the longitudinal members and through the upper rail into the A-pillar. The longitudinal members have large sections that extend along the floor of the car as far as the rear seat.
The three load paths are connected transversely via cross-members, the most important of which is the bumper beam. This helps to distribute impact forces across and through the front structure, to help achieve a controlled and predictable deformation in a wide range of frontal collisions.
To help provide side impact protection, the B-pillar, side sills and door beams are designed to behave as a single, integrated structure, increasing the likelihood of deformation in a controlled and predictable way. A key part of this strategy is the ‘pendulum’ movement for the B-pillar.
In effect, the pillar is ‘hinged’ from the roof rail of the passenger compartment. It has strengthened upper and middle sections so that, in an impact, it is designed to bend inwards at the bottom, helping to deflect lateral forces downwards towards the floor, away from the more sensitive occupant head and chest areas. The door beams are designed to help support this structure and the bottoms of the doors also interlock with the reinforced side sills so that the entire side structure is designed to perform a load-sharing role.
The door beams are also designed to help provide a major load-bearing function in side impacts against narrow objects, such as a tree or telegraph pole, when the B-pillar is not engaged.
At the rear, two more longitudinal members are designed to buckle and deform in a progressive manner to help protect the passenger compartment in a rear end collision. They also assist in dissipating crash energy towards the C-pillars. The fuel tank is mounted low down in front of the rear axle, away from any likely point of impact.
Dual Stage Front Airbags
The 65-liter driver and 145-liter front passenger airbags are designed to help provide an ‘occupant-friendly’ deployment in frontal impacts. Two sensors in the front bumper beam detect impact severity and a switch in the seat-belt buckles indicates whether or not the belts are being worn. This data is sent to the centrally located SDM which, within milliseconds, chooses between activation of the belt pre-tensioners alone, or in combination with stage 1 or stage 2 inflation of the airbags.
A collision with a relatively low level of impact energy would, for example, likely require less airbag pressure and, therefore, a slower rate of inflation (stage 1) than a more severe, high-energy impact (stage 2).
Head/Thorax Side Airbags
To help provide further side impact protection, double action head/thorax airbags are mounted in outboard edge of the front seat-backs. This ensures they are in position irrespective of how the seat is adjusted. They have two 20-liter sections, the lower one designed to protect the rib cage and the upper part helping to provide head protection.
When activated, the lower section inflates first to help protect the occupant’s rib cage, usually first part of the body to feel the force an impact. As soon as the rib cage comes into contact with the lower part of the airbag, gas is displaced upwards. The gas then fills the upper section of the airbag, helping to protect the occupant’s head, which is usually a little further away from the car’s side structure at the moment of impact.
Saab Active Head Restraints (SAHR)
The Saab 9-5 pioneered the use of Saab Active Head Restraints (SAHR) and these are fitted as standard to both front seats. Crash investigation findings published by the US Journal of Trauma, and comparative tests by the US Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and the Thatcham insurance research center in the UK, have shown the SAHR to be extremely effective in helping to prevent serious neck injury to front seat occupants in the event of a rear end collision. The Journal of Trauma published a Saab study that found a remarkable 75 per cent reduction in severe neck injuries when comparing Saab cars fitted with SAHR against older Saab models not equipped with the SAHR system.
The head restraint is activated in a rear end impact as soon as the occupant’s lower back is pressed into the seatback. The head restraint is connected by a linkage to a pressure plate in the backrest of the seat. Inertia forces the occupant’s body into the backrest against the pressure plate which triggers a mechanism to push the head restraint upwards and forward, catching the head and helping to minimize neck movement. This helps prevent neck injury by reducing the amount of head movement relative to the torso
The SAHR system is entirely mechanical and after activation the head restraint automatically springs back to its passive position, ready for future use.
A great deal of experience has gone into making the 9-5’s interior surfaces and materials ‘occupant-friendly’. The front areas of the cabin near the knee and lower leg are well bolstered to help prevent occupant injury and the steering column is, of course, collapsible.
Passenger safety is also the main reason why the interior door armrests and inner door handles are recessed. And in common with most other Saab cars, the floor-mounted ignition switch is located well away from sensitive knee and leg areas.
It is, of course, better to avoid becoming involved in any road collision and the new 9-5’s excellent chassis dynamics, steering and brakes help to keep the driver in control and, therefore, less likely to be involved in, or better able to avoid, a collision.
Driving safety is further advanced by the standard fitment of an electronic chassis control system (ESP®), Traction control (TCS), Electronic Brake force Distribution (EBD) and anti-lock braking (ABS). These functions are described in the Chassis section.
Improved driving safety also involves reducing the potential for driver distraction and the new 9-5 features Saab ComSense functionality, which uses the concept of ‘dynamic workload management’. This is described in the Model Range section.
New Saab 9-5: Standard safety equipment
· Two-stage front airbags
· Head-thorax side airbags (front)
· Three-point seatbelts in all five seating positions
· Seatbelt pre-tensioners with load limiters (front)
· Saab Active Head Restraints (SAHR) on front seats
· Front and rear seats with anti-submarining protection
· Isofix mountings for child seats
· Load-securing tracks in the luggage floor, 9-5 SportCombi