Unique crash test procedure used for Ford B-Max23 April 2012
During the development of the new Ford B-Max, the company developed and implemented a unique test procedure to ensure the car's easy access door system is as safe as it is innovative.
The B-Max integrates central body pillars into hinged front doors and sliding rear doors to create best-in-class access to the compact multi-activity vehicle. However, this fresh approach also required designers and engineers to develop new crash test equipment to ensure B-Max met Ford's safety standards.
The five-year testing programme included 5,000 virtual collisions and 40 real-world crashes; three years alone were devoted to providing rear-door safety. This testing process included the construction of a bespoke rig system used to test the reinforced latches.
"B-Max really took us into uncharted territory," says Ford safety project manager Tom Overington. "We knew from virtual simulations that the design performs well, but we had to validate this in real crash tests."
B-Max doors are fitted with ultra-high strength steel brackets called crash catchers that lock the doors together if the vehicle is hit in the side. "The latches and crash catchers are crucial because they are designed to keep the doors together during a crash," continues Overington. "We went to great lengths to test them in the virtual and the physical word."
"We performed virtual car-to-car crashes at a 30 degree angle into the front and rear doors to further validate the performance of the door structure. We also built a special rig to test the reinforced latch mechanism. The forces involved in these tests are massive and the doors performed exactly as expected."
In addition to being subjected to more than 5,000 computer simulated crash tests, the team conducted 40 complete crash tests and another 100 tests where the car was mounted on a sled and fired into a barrier.
Ford Motor Co Ltd
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