Last year, Hyundai Motor Group marked the highest level ever in the crash safety evaluation by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), which is notorious as the most demanding in the world. IIHS is one of the major organizations in charge of the New Car Assessment Program (NCAP), and it is leading automakers to produce safer cars by most actively reflecting trends in fatal accidents in their tests.
In this IIHS test, a total of 26 models of the Hyundai Motor Group were recognized for their excellent crash safety - 15 models received TSP+ (Top Safety Pick Plus) and 11 models received TSP (Top Safety Pick). In particular, all Genesis models sold in the US market have obtained TSP+. Of course, their accomplishment was not achieved in a day; their priorities have always been passenger safety. All of this was possible thanks to Hyundai Motor Group’s state-of-the-art development process - consisting of various infrastructure, simulation tests, and actual vehicle evaluation - established to improve crash performance.
Hyundai Motor Group, which has achieved outstanding results in the field of crash safety through steady R&D capacity enhancement, shared its vision for passenger safety and vivid actual research and development sites with their customers. The Crash Safety Evaluation Media Day, held at the safety performance test zone of Hyundai Motor Kia Motors Namyang R&D Center, was centered on the crash safety evaluation conducted in actual automobile research and development. The day started with a welcome speech by Paek Chaing-in, head of Integrated Safety Development Group at Hyundai Motor Company, followed by an introduction to Hyundai Motor Group’s facilities and various development processes for perfect passenger safety.
The safety performance test zone of the Namyang R&D Center, where the Media Day was held, is a facility with an area of about 40,000 square meters to ensure optimal crash safety in 2005, and conducts about 650 crash tests annually. In addition, this 2,900㎡ crash test site can conduct various tests such as towing a vehicle of up to 5 tons at a maximum speed of 100 km/h - not only to pursue the highest level of passenger safety, but also to respond to major crash safety evaluations from around the world. For reference, Hyundai Motor Group spends about 4,000 hours of testing and about 10 billion KRW to secure the highest level of crash safety when developing a new car.
In addition to these internal tests, Hyundai Motor Group utilizes various information such as in-house service feedback and actual accident data disclosed by NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) and GIDAS (German In Depth Accident Study) for more complex accidents. We are responding to the type and incorporating it into our development process; And the secondary accident prevention technology based on these actual accident data is the world’s first composite crash airbag developed by the automaker in 2019.
In addition, Hyundai Motor Group has 27 types/170 sets of dummy that play the role of passengers in real vehicle crash tests. This is the industry’s largest scale, and for the most important frontal crash tests, Hybrid-I (1971), Hybrid-II (1973) and currently, Hybrid-III (1997~) and THOR (Test Device for Human Occupant Restraint) are used for testing. In particular, THOR was designed to more closely resemble a real human through structural changes in major parts such as the head, neck, chest, abdomen, and pelvis; Compared to the Hybrid-III, it has more than 100 sensors (total of 157), so it can precisely measure minor injuries in a collision, contributing a lot to improving passenger safety performance.
The crash safety evaluation that followed the announcement by Vice President Paek Chaing-in was conducted for IONIQ 5 (2024 version) housed with E-GMP with electric vehicle crash safety technology. The evaluation was conducted in a partial crash of the front 40% of the body at 64 km/h (40 miles). The evaluation also reflected changes to head-on collisions that IIHS plans to implement in the future. IIHS will introduce a new assessment aimed at reducing injuries to rear seat occupants, which has been improved after studies have shown that rear seat occupants are at higher risk of fatal injuries in crashes.
Before conducting a full-scale crash safety evaluation, Hyundai Motor Group researchers meticulously inspected various sensors, measuring equipment, cameras, and dummies to ensure accurate test results. The researchers put a 50th percentile male dummy in the driver’s seat, similar to the American standard male physique. In addition, a 5th percentile female crash test dummy that represents the smallest 5th percent of the female adult population was added to the rear seat in accordance with the evaluation criteria to be newly introduced by the IIHS, and the test was configured to determine the level of injury to passengers in the rear seat.
Ready for the test, IONIQ 5 rushed at 64 km/h toward the 40% offset structure immediately after the cue. The crash test ended in an instant with a tremendous impact sound that filled the test site, and the researchers started verifying it right away. During the first verification process immediately after the crash, they determine whether the car has met basic safety performance requirements.
Researchers identified deformation of the body, internal conditions, oil leaks/fires, and devices such as airbags and seat belts. In particular, they carefully measured whether high-voltage parts such as batteries caused a fire. Then they checked to see if the driver’s side door and the rear door would open with the dummies in; This was to alleviate concerns about the problem with recent electric cars where the doors would not open after a crash.
For reference, during the actual vehicle development process, crash evaluation tests and analysis verification are performed simultaneously. In this process, automakers identify the expected level of injury to passengers based on data from sensors attached to the dummy, and analyze comprehensive vehicle safety by measuring the degree of deformation of the car.
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In the crash test video taken through high-speed photography, the IONIQ 5 perfectly absorbed the impact while the crumple zone* was crumpled the moment it collided with the structure. In fact, Hyundai Motor Group is designing the crumple zone of the body to efficiently absorb and dissipate the impact energy - for example, a bumper back beam with a double box structure, or a design that multiplexes the load path** of the front part of the body.
*crumple zones help transfer some of the car’s kinetic energy into controlled deformation, or crumple, at impact.
**load path refers to the direction in which each consecutive load will pass through
Reporters attending the media day took a closer look at the cars that went through the collision test. After hitting the structure, IONIQ 5 maintained the ‘safety zone’ that protects passengers even while the left front part of the body, including the side member, was completely crushed. At the same time, the car well protected not only the driver’s dummy, but also the rear dummy, a new twist in the IIHS test, by deploying a driver’s airbag, curtain airbags, and side airbags.
Hyundai Motor Group’s E-GMP, including Hyundai Motor Company’s IONIQ 5, succeeded in proving its excellent crash safety again through this event. In particular, the IONIQ 5, which won the ‘World Car of the Year’ as well as the recent ‘Japan Car of the Year’, is an EV dedicated to E-GMP with enhanced crash safety performance suitable for electric vehicles. It has obtained the highest level in major evaluation agencies around the world, such as KNCAP (Korean New Car Assessment Program) hosted by the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport, as well as Euro New Car Assessment Program (NCAP), IIHS, and NHTSA, for its excellent safety. In addition, other EVs of Hyundai Motor Group with E-GMP are also gaining the highest level in new car evaluation programs around the world such as IIHS.
In addition, the safety of Hyundai Motor Group’s electrified vehicles is not limited to E-GMP-based vehicles; The automaker is aiming for the highest level of safety even for derivative EVs designed before its E-GMP announcement. They are constantly reinforcing and improving core safety structures, such as aluminum extrusions inside the side sills, one of the features of E-GMP. The Genesis Electrified G80, a pure EV model of the Genesis G80, also proved its outstanding safety by receiving TSP+ in the IIHS crash safety test.
After vehicle safety verification, researchers in each field working to enhance crash safety at the Namyang Research Center had a Q&A session with reporters. As recent reports on electric vehicle-related collisions and fire accidents continue, there have been inquiries about the collision safety of electrified models. They are currently working on reducing the possibility of ignition of the battery while increasing body robustness, and are developing technologies that can slow or even extinguish the spread of fire, even if it does occur, he said.
In addition, they explained E-GMP’s unique design features and safety structure that responds to electric vehicle structures that are vulnerable to impact from the bottom, and said that they are constantly improving safety based on data obtained from Namyang R&D Center’s unique test environment.
In addition, the researchers took a firm stance on the assertion that the specifications of vehicles for domestic use and vehicles for export are allegedly different from each other. Regarding the safety discrimination question, vice president Paek Chaing-in said, “Our group puts the highest priority on maintaining the world’s highest level of safety.” He continued, “All models sold in Korea, North America, and Europe are being developed with the same level of material and design, except for some parts to comply with the laws and regulations of each country.”
Vice president Paek explained through this media day, “Hyundai Motor Group is developing safety devices that can prevent various accident conditions by analyzing the types of actual accidents and injuries to passengers.” He also emphasized, “Hyundai Motor Group has reached the world’s top level in safety such as design, materials and body structure, as well as advanced devices.” He also mentioned Hyundai Motor Group’s strong will for passenger safety, adding, “We will not stop researching and developing to always supply the safest cars at a reasonable price in response to rapidly developing safety technologies.”
HMG Journal Operation Teamgroup@hyundai.com
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