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Status Report, Vol. 48, No. 7 | September 27, 2013 Subscribe

Crash tests show how autobrake can mitigate crash severity, damage costs

The Mercedes-Benz C-Class and Chevrolet Malibu after the 25 mph test

The idea of an autobrake system is to prevent a front-to-rear impact or reduce speeds to mitigate the crash. To show why reducing speed is important, IIHS conducted two demonstration crash tests at different speeds. In each test, a 2013 Mercedes-Benz C-Class ran into the back of a stationary 2012 Chevrolet Malibu. The tests illustrate what happens in a 25 mph crash when the striking vehicle doesn't have autobrake, compared with what happens when autobrake reduces the speed by 13 mph. This is how much the C-Class's autobrake system reduced the car's speed in IIHS track testing.

Total damage in the higher speed crash test was about $28,000. The Malibu was a complete loss. Lowering the speed to 12 mph trimmed the damage to $5,700. Since these were relatively low-speed tests, it's no surprise that dummies in both vehicles indicated low injury risk and airbags didn't deploy. A similar speed reduction in a higher speed crash would significantly reduce injury risk, as well as vehicle damage.

12 mph test

Mercedes-Benz C-Class into rear of Chevrolet Malibu
Above: 12 mph test | Below: 25 mph test

Mercedes C-Class into Chevrolet Malibu
Speed Mercedes C-Class Chevrolet Malibu Total
12 mph $3,438 $2,277 $5,715
25 mph $9,457 $18,674 $28,131
25 mph test
Rating models for front crash prevention

A new IIHS test program rates front crash prevention systems to help consumers decide which features to consider and encourage automakers to speed adoption of the technology.

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