The 2023 Subaru Solterra and the Toyota bZ4X recently picked up two top global safety awards. Both new EVs earned a five-star safety award from JNCAP in Japan and were awarded the maximum five stars from the 2022 European New Car Assessment Program (Euro NCAP) safety performance test.
It's the second award for the highest result in the battery-electric vehicle category. Were the new EVs receiving the highest safety rating because of Subaru Corporation or Toyota Motor Co? A new report released from Subaru reveals Toyota borrowed two top Subaru engineers to develop the Solterra and bZ4X occupant safety performance.
Questions like how much space is necessary to absorb the impact in a collision with a passenger on board? How stiff should the airbag be? And how much clearance is needed for the airbag to deploy, especially in a side collision?
With battery electric vehicles, which have a heavier vehicle weight, the impact energy increases, and the amount of deformation of the vehicle increases. It's an issue that engineers had to decide on, says Subaru.
The Solterra and bZ4X were designed in the Toyota ZEV factory B&D lab. But Toyota tapped two Subaru engineers, Takashi Kuroda and Yoshihiro Kamata, to answer these questions and take the lead in the vehicle's safety performance.
Because Subaru Corporation leads the industry in developing the safest vehicles, the Japanese automaker was the main reason the Solterra and bZ4X achieved top scores in Adult Occupant Protection (88%), Child Occupant Protection (87%), Vulnerable Road Users Protection (79%), and Safety Assist (91%). All four assessment areas stand above the minimum threshold required.
Subaru says the Solterra achieved "a remarkable score" in the Child Occupant Protection with a maximum score in crash test performance of both frontal and lateral impact based on six and ten-year-old children.
Solterra and bZ4X also received a very high automatic emergency braking (AEB) car-to-car score with 5.6/6 points in safety assist assessment thanks to the preventive safety system EyeSight.
The EVs also attained a remarkable score for AEB Cyclist, with a score of 8.7/9 points for the Vulnerable Road Users assessment area. The system performed well in the tests of its response to pedestrians and cyclists, with collisions avoided in most test scenarios as well as to other vehicles.
The Solterra uses the newly adopted e-Subaru Global Platform (e-SGP), jointly developed with Toyota as a platform exclusively for battery electric vehicles (BEV), for its collision safety performance.
Subaru says the e-SGP is a multi-load pass structure that disperses and absorbs the impact of a collision throughout the body, ensuring the safety of the occupants and, at the same time, enhancing the protection performance for various parts with high voltage, such as the battery.
In addition, the extensive use of high-strength, ultra-high-tensile steel sheets has achieved both high collision safety performance and light vehicle weight, which leads to improved driving dynamics.
The new Solterra sold in the U.S. comes equipped with Subaru's next-generation EyeSight safety technology. The driver-assist system uses stereo cameras with nearly doubled expanded view coverage for collision prevention.
Subaru says EyeSight has reduced the rear-end collision rate by 84 percent and the pedestrian accident rate by 49 percent. The rear-end collision rate for vehicles equipped with EyeSight is 0.06 percent.
All 2023 Solterra trim levels feature standard EyeSight driver assist technologies, which monitor traffic movement, optimize cruise control, and warn you when you're swaying outside your lane. The Pre-Collision System 3 can apply full braking force and bring you to a complete stop in emergencies.
Solterra's Dynamic Radar Cruise Control3 and Lane Tracing Assist3 "can take some of the stress out of driving by helping with steering, braking, and throttle control in daily traffic and on long road trips," says Subaru.
Subaru says, "We will continue to evolve safety performance, which is an essential element that supports the enjoyment and peace of mind that Subaru proposes, aiming for zero fatal traffic accidents by 2030."
The 2023 Subaru Solterra and Toyota bZ4X are the safest vehicles in the battery-electric category, thanks to Subaru Corporations' top engineers taking the lead in developing occupant safety performance.
Has the Solterra been tested in the U.S.?
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) will test the 2023 Subaru Solterra next, and we expect the new EV to get the highest Top Safety Pick+ award. We will bring you the results when they are released.
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Denis Flierl has invested over 30 years in the automotive industry in a consulting role working with every major car brand. He is an accredited member of the Rocky Mountain Automotive Press. Check out Subaru Report, where he covers all of the Japanese automaker's models. More stories can be found on the Torque News Subaru page. Follow Denis on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
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Photo credit: Subaru