Homo Ludditus

Less is more and nothing is good enough


5-star protection at 64 km/h, no pocket protection at 10 km/h

I’ve always grumbled that modern cars, under the pretext of offering better occupant safety (pedestrian safety is also a key cause) through the absorbing or the diverting of the impact energy in real crashes, have the front and rear bumpers designed in such a manner that they’re unable to protect more expensive parts, so that any minor driving error leading to a 5…10 km/h impact with an obstacle would incur major expenses for the owner — or for the insurer.

Years ago, I watched an American documentary about this issue (a comparative of the expenses caused by the impact with a street bollard, for cars of different makes and models), but I wasn’t able to identify it or a recording of it.

Thankfully, the Aussies have conducted a similar test last year — Written off in 10km/h crash. Here you have the costs (parts and labor) after such a “minor bumper-to-bumper bingle” at 10 km/h:


It’s worth noting that these cars offer a good crash protection in the official tests. E.g. Honda Jazz and Toyota Yaris have 5-star EuroNCAP certifications, yet bumping them at 10 km/h costs AUD 6-7k only for the front side (or only for the back side) — 1 AUD is about 0.90 USD. Outrageous!

This is because bumpers are no longer real bumpers — à la Volvo 740 or 760, if you know what I mean.

Oh, and expect much higher bills in real life situations, especially when a bollard or a utility pole is involved, even at less than 10 km/h. Have fun with your modern, safe car!

4 thoughts on “5-star protection at 64 km/h, no pocket protection at 10 km/h

    1. Béranger Post author

      Not my point. The “classical” Volvo bumper should absorb the energy for low-speed impacts, but for protection in “real crash” situations, more advanced mechanisms of channeling the impact energy should be used — and by “used” I mean “added to the traditional bumper”, not “replacing the traditional bumper”.

      1. Robert

        The modern bumpers are made from softer materials in order to better “protect” the pedestrian. A softer material will also crack, shatter more easily on impact. But a metal bumper will bend on impact and is hard to repair that, so you will have to buy another one. And plastic is much cheaper than steel.

        1. Béranger Post author

          YES, I KNOW ALL THIS! But they should FUCKING put the bumper IN FRONT of the car, NOT IN LINE with everything else, so that if the so-called “bumper” is FLATTENED BY 1 INCH, a lot of parts would be smashed too! What the fuck do they have in their minds, to make you replace an entire front of a car because the “bumper” WAS NOT protruded by 1-2 inches!

          Oh, replacing a metal bumper is CHEAPER than replacing: a soft bumper + front lights + motor hood + 2 front wings + radiator!

          WTF, the Australian test is showing exactly that thing: too much (and too costly!) damage for a mere 10 km/h impact — and a uniformly distributed one!


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