Small Cars, Global Stars

Ford recently announced the Fiesta is the first car in its segment to earn a top safety rating in the World’s largest auto markets across four continents. The Fiesta achieved 5-star safety ratings in China, Europe and Australia/New Zealand, plus a Top Safety Pick from the IIHS in the US.

Ford’s global safety engineers worked together to develop the Fiesta to be able to meet local crash requirements around the world, leveraging Ford of Europe’s small car expertise including significant application of virtual testing. In this vehicle we see a great example of implementing the “design globally, build locally” philosophy mentioned in a previous post.

Just over a year ago Axel Hänschke of Ford gave some insight into this when he presented an overview of the CAE driven safety development process for the Fiesta at the European HyperWorks Technology Conference. His presentation introduced the safety requirements and achievements (at that time “just” 5-star EuroNCAP and 1E Thatcham) .

He then reviewed the structure of the car – which is more than 55% by weight ultra-high-strength steel – and highlighted areas where structural optimization influenced the design. Finally in an overview of the CAE development process we saw a comparison of images from RADIOSS simulation results and physical crash tests.

The Honda Fit is also an IIHS top safety pick (2009) and established the Minicar category. This vehicle employs Honda’s Advanced Compatibility Engineering™ (ACE™) body structure and high-tensile steel is used in 54% of body structure. The focus of the ACE™ structure is to increase crash compatibly between cars and light trucks.

Another vehicle that launched in Europe and is now in North America, to much fanfare, is the Fiat 500. This car also received a EuroNCAP 5 star rating and Fiat have been quite aggressive in fighting the “bigger is better” assumption and even citing examples of popular larger vehicles that have poor European crash tests.

Tony Norton
Tony Norton

About Tony Norton

Tony leads the Americas based Altair ProductDesign teams in the delivery of early concept (industrial design, design exploration, testing & prototyping) and advanced simulation driven design (cutting-edge modeling, optimization, methods development & automation) to our customers. Before joining Altair UK in 1996, he worked at both Ford Motor Company and GEC-Marconi Avionics. He moved to Michigan in 1999 to join Altair US, and holds a Bachelors degree from The University of Hertfordshire in England.