Ford announced on May 20 that they had achieved a clean safety sweep for their 2013 Fusion line after earning the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) “five-star” Overall Vehicle Score for the 2013 Ford Fusion Energi.
The five-star rating is the U.S. Government’s highest-possible safety rating and is determined only after severe testing procedures as part of NHTSA’s New Car Assessment Program (NCAP), which combines vehicle performance in frontal and side-impact crash tests and resistance to rollover.
The NHTSA five-star rating for the Fusion Energi comes in addition to the 2013 Fusion being named a Top Safety Pick+ from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) in December. The Top Safety Pick+ designation is the highest rating the organization (IIHS) has for vehicle safety.
The Fusion Energi plug-in hybrid joins the Ford Fusion and the Ford Fusion Hybrid which already received five-star safety ratings.
The significance of the award is reflected in that NHTSA has elected to test plug-in vehicles separately from vehicles powered by gasoline internal combustion engines as the market share of electrified vehicles is increasing.
The Ford Fusion line becomes the first full line of gasoline, hybrid and electric -plug-in vehicles to earn the award.
“The Fusion Energi combines the highest possible safety ratings from NHTSA and great fuel economy, two things we know customers are looking for in their vehicles,” said Steve Kenner, Global Director of the Ford Automotive Safety Office. “Our strategy is to provide our customers with a range of power train options in our vehicles, while still leading in fuel economy in every segment that we compete.”
The Top Safety Pick+ testing award from the IIHS is new in this past year. IIHS added a new test to their safety review protocol in the second half of 2012 called a Small Overlap Frontal Test to supplement their existing Full Frontal and Moderate Frontal crash tests.
The new IIHS test is designed to replicate what happens when the front corner of a vehicle collides with another vehicle or an object like a tree or utility pole.
Analysis of actual crash data by the IIHS showed that this crash test was necessary to replicate the full range of frontal crashes a vehicle may experience which include increasing numbers of crashes involving only a front corner of a vehicle.
Current safety belt and air bag designs have proven to be generally acceptable in mitigating crash injuries to vehicle occupants in full frontal or moderate frontal (half the hood or grille area involved) but data suggests current designs for some safety belt and airbag systems are insufficient in such a crash because as they do not fully account for occupants moving both forward and toward the side of the vehicle as a result of the impact.
Ford, in their new 2013 Fusion vehicles produced after December 2012, have now engineered their systems to meet the Small Overlap Frontal crash challenge as well.
The Fusion Energi also features the Personal Safety System with safety belt technologies and front impact airbags. The Personal Safety System is a network of components that work together to tailor the deployment of the front airbags during frontal collisions.
Other driver assist technologies available on the Fusion Energi include: Lane Keeping Assist, Adaptive Cruise Control, Rearview Camera, Hill Start Assist and Electronic Parking Brake.