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NHTSA's New Rules

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New rules for cars to take effect Saturday
Automakers must post crash-test ratings and realistic gas mileage, among other regulations
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David Shepardson | Detroit News Washington Bureau | Link to Original Article @ DetNews


WASHINGTON -- Automakers face several new safety and environmental requirements that take effect Saturday -- most notably posting government crash-test ratings on window stickers and installing a system to monitor tires on all 2008 vehicles.

In 2005, Congress ordered automakers to place frontal and side crash tests and rollover ratings on vehicle window stickers starting Sept. 1, 2007.

About 85 percent of vehicles sold are tested by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration for their performance in front, side and rollover crashes, said NHTSA spokesman Rae Tyson. Those that aren't tested are higher-end or low-volume models, he said.

NHTSA also will conduct additional vehicle tests if automakers want to pay for them, which General Motors Corp. decided to do. GM paid NHTSA to conduct 24 additional tests on 14 models so GM could have crash-test ratings on all of its 2007 vehicles.

"Customers are more leery of unrated vehicles than a lower-rated vehicle," GM spokesman Alan Adler said. "We don't want people to think we're hiding something."

Ford Motor Co. spokesman Dan Jarvis said 23 of the automaker's 25 nameplates, or 92 percent, have been tested by NHTSA. He didn't know which two models weren't included, but said those vehicles will have the results posted once they are tested.

Chrysler LLC spokesman Max Gates declined to say how many vehicles would have the crash-test ratings on window stickers, but said the company would post them as they receive them.

NHTSA has sped up its crash testing to get ratings on vehicles earlier. Automakers have 30 days after they receive test results to put them on vehicle stickers.

NHTSA Administrator Nicole Nason has argued the stickers will force automakers to improve the safety of their vehicles. Consumers will see the stickers "and demand the safest car possible," she said at an event last year.

Critics, however, argue that NHTSA's tests aren't tough enough in the first place, noting that nearly all vehicles get a four- or five-star rating.

More realistic gas mileage

Also on the stickers, auto shoppers will see significantly lower fuel economy estimates for 2008 vehicles, because the Environmental Protection Agency introduced new testing procedures last December that more closely reflect real-world driving conditions. The new tests drop city driving mileage an average 12 percent on most models and highway mileage 8 percent.

Gasoline-electric hybrids take the biggest hits, down around 20 percent. Automakers are quick to point out that the efficiency hasn't changed, just the tests.

At fueleconomy.gov, the EPA has posted a car-by-car comparison of 2008 model mileage compared to 2007.

The 2008 model year also marks the first of three transition years for a new system regulating corporate average fuel economy for light duty trucks.

Automakers will be able to meet a slightly higher overall fuel economy requirement -- 22.5 miles per gallon up from 22.2 miles per gallon in the 2008 model year -- or they can meet a series of attribute- or footprint-based targets.

In 2011, they must begin operating under the new system. The Bush administration wants the authority to reform the passenger car system, while the Senate in June adopted a bill that would require automakers to increase fuel economy 40 percent by 2020 to 35 mpg for cars and trucks combined. Automakers have backed a less aggressive increase in the House.

Also beginning Saturday, automakers must have tire pressure monitoring systems in all vehicles. The system activates a warning signal on the dash when a tire is significantly underinflated -- and must do so with 20 minutes of detection.

Automakers go beyond the requirement in many vehicles, displaying the air pressure of all four tires on the dashboard.

The devices were required by Congress in 2000 in the wake of more than 280 deaths linked to recalled Firestone tires, mostly on Ford Explorers.

New side air bag rules

Saturday also marks the first requirement for automakers to install side air bags.

Under a voluntary agreement reached in 2003, all automakers must have side air bags in 50 percent of their vehicles 8,500 pounds or smaller for the 2008 model year. And by Sept. 1, 2009, automakers must make them standard in all vehicles.

NHTSA will announce a final regulation requiring side air bags next month that may also require automakers to upgrade the structural integrity of vehicles to meet new crash tests.
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Does anyone see the conflict between the new safety standards and the proposed CAFE increases?

'Nother question: does anyone here really make a buying decision based on crash ratings - even in part?

Be honest.

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Good for the domestics, because they're all engineered to do well in NHTSA tests. Imports usually do better in the tougher IIHS/E-NCAP tests, though this is all changing quickly.

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Does anyone see the conflict between the new safety standards and the proposed CAFE increases?

'Nother question: does anyone here really make a buying decision based on crash ratings - even in part?

Be honest.

I do, anything the wife drives has 5 star crash ratings.

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Washington to Detroit: "Make the car weigh hundreds of pounds more; but at the same time increase efficiency at an unachievable rate. And while you're at it, have fun destroying your own profits and handing the market over to Japan."

Washington to Detroit: "Drop dead."

(Sounds familiar doesn't it?)

Edited by FUTURE_OF_GM
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I do, anything the wife drives has 5 star crash ratings.

And for yourself?

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'Nother question: does anyone here really make a buying decision based on crash ratings - even in part?

Be honest.

Yeah, all our cars have "Good" ratings in the IIHS offset test (IIHS side tests weren't introduced back in '00, '02, and '03).

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Washington to Detroit: "Make the car weigh hundreds of pounds more; but at the same time increase efficiency at an unachievable rate. And while you're at it, have fun destroying your own profits and handing the market over to Japan."

Washington to Detroit: "Drop dead."

(Sounds familiar doesn't it?)

Exactly.

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Yeah, all our cars have "Good" ratings in the IIHS offset test (IIHS side tests weren't introduced back in '00, '02, and '03).

But was it a factor in your buying decision?

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And for yourself?

I'm more concerned about the crash ratings of the jets I take for my GM work trips. In 2005 I was traveling every other week to some place in the world. :AH-HA_wink:

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Washington to Detroit: "Make the car weigh hundreds of pounds more; but at the same time increase efficiency at an unachievable rate. And while you're at it, have fun destroying your own profits and handing the market over to Japan."

Washington to Detroit: "Drop dead."

(Sounds familiar doesn't it?)

A 2007 Caliber has a 5-star, 5-star, 5-star, 5-star rating, weighs 2900 lbs, and gets 28/32 MPG. If lowly Chrysler can do it, surely GM can too.

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But was it a factor in your buying decision?

Yes.

Back in the '80s, my parents were hit in a head-on collision involving a dump truck and their Volvo saved their lives.

Edited by empowah
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Yes.

Back in the '80s, my parents were hit in a head-on collision involving a dump truck and their Volvo saved their lives.

Understandable.

I am just wondering how critical crash ratings are for most people when making the buying decision.

Would you refuse to buy a car you otherwise liked if it did not have a 5 star rating?

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Washington to Detroit: "Make the car weigh hundreds of pounds more; but at the same time increase efficiency at an unachievable rate. And while you're at it, have fun destroying your own profits and handing the market over to Japan."

Good point.

I find it funny about the crash tests. The NHTSA's procedures result in most vehicle getting good ratings. They need to adopt the IIHS's procedures. Not only are they tougher, they're more realistic.

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Not all IIHS tests are real legit in that sense. The bumper bash is specious, for example.

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G-body = strongest fullsizer eva.

Really?

Torsional rigidity...

Aurora - 25 Hertz

7er - 29 Hertz

Sebring - 32 Hertz

Commodore - 45 Hertz

IIHS side crash B-pillar deformation... (B-pillar to longitudinal centerline of driver's seat)

Lucerne: -3.5 cm (Marginal)

Impala: -11.0 cm (Acceptable)

300: -6.0 cm (Acceptable)

500: -11.5 (Acceptable)

Avalon: -9.5 (Acceptable)

Passat: -14.0 (Good)

Crown Vic: 7.0 (Poor)

It's not really the platform, but individual factors. The Impala has a beefier B-pillar than the Grand Prix, for instance, or a TT has better torsional rigidity than a Rabbit.

Edited by empowah
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Exactly.

AND I WANT TO OVER AND BASH A FEW POLITICIAN'S HEADS FOR THAT. They seem so short sighted when creating bills it pisses me off. But they don't give a crap about the US auto indusrty unless it affects their re-election bids. FOOLS!

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New side air bag rules

Saturday also marks the first requirement for automakers to install side air bags.

Under a voluntary agreement reached in 2003, all automakers must have side air bags in 50 percent of their vehicles 8,500 pounds or smaller for the 2008 model year. And by Sept. 1, 2009, automakers must make them standard in all vehicles.

Probably a silly question, but where are they going to put the side air bags on the Kappas? I would guess seats, but there would be no room for them to deploy.

Edited by Drex
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