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The High Cost of Low Impact Collisions

IIHS Low Impact Crash Study

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has released a report today to bring attention to the rather high cost of low-impact collisions in luxury automobiles. To illustrate their point, each of the test cars were subjected to four low-impact impacts: full front and rear collision, and front and rear side collisions. The damage was then assessed and the value of repair calculated.

Two Lexus’ were featured in the results, which fell in the middle of the pack in terms of cost:

Vehicle Front Full Front Corner Rear Full Rear Corner Total Damage
Lexus IS $4,695 $2,223 $1,922 $737 $9,577
Lexus ES $3,921 $2,093 $3,709 $1,101 $10,824

The worse offender was the Infiniti G35, which totalled up to $13,983, and the least expensive, should you consider it a luxury car, was the Saab 9-3 which only came to $5,243.

Automakers were quick to denounce the study, as reported by the San Jose Mercury News:

Automakers said the tests did not assess the vehicle’s safety and only focused on repair cost. They said it was hard for the tests to replicate the low-speed crashes that typically occur on the road.

Nissan Motor Co. spokeswoman Jeannine Ginivan said it was “highly unlikely that anyone would be simultaneously involved in the four low-speed crash modes under real-world conditions.” Infiniti is Nissan’s luxury brand.

Mercedes-Benz spokesman Rob Moran said the results did not reflect the automaker’s “holistic approach to occupant safety. This philosophy influences vehicle design and development even down to the front bumper.”

It’s hard to fault the IIHS for bringing attention of this, because while deductibles keep this from hitting the customer’s pocket directly, it results in higher premiums over the long-term. Still, how many would trade in their color-coded plastic bumpers for the steel bumper-car look of yesteryear?

The LS 460 Symphony Orchestra Takes the Stage

Lexus LS 460 Symphony Orchestra

Twelve LS 460’s will be filling in for a symphony orchestra this August for two very special performances in Britain:

The twelve vehicles will be arranged onstage to emulate a typical orchestral layout of individual instruments, with strings, brass, woodwind, basses and percussion being performed by each section. In essence each LS 460 will be carefully positioned with their doors open so that the full effect and quality of the Mark Levinson Reference Surround Sound audio system can be fully appreciated by the audience.

That was certainly enough to capture my attention, cars as musical instruments? Why not?

Commissioned by Lexus, the LS 460’s will perform two pieces written by Chesney Hawkes, Chris Nicolaides and Alaister King. The shows will take place August 18-19 at Castle Howard and August 25-16 at Pops in the Park in South London.

[Via: Dexigner]

Analyzing the Chemical Properties of the Lexus RX 400h Advert

Lexus RX 400h Ad

The new Lexus RX 400h print ad may be a good looker, but according to the Chemist’s Laboratory Notebook blog, it’s just a pretty picture:

Whenever I see chemical information or structures in real world situations, it makes me excited that non-chemists are getting a little exposure to what I work with every day. Usually the chemistry isn’t great (and sometimes it doesn’t even make sense), but at least our industry is getting some recognition. Although I tried to find some connection between the structures pictured and hybrid cars, I couldn’t find one.

No word on what the structures actually indicate, maybe I can get a followup. Very curious, how hard would it have been to include relevant chemical bonds?

Lexus USA July 2007 Sales Report

Toyota’s July sales may have dropped 3.5%, but Lexus managed to gain 4.9% in a month that was especially difficult for automakers.

Here’s a by-model breakdown of the numbers:

2007 2006 % Change
IS250/350 4,892 4,848 5.1
ES350 6,909 7,803 -7.8
GS350 1,798 1,776 5.5
GS430/450h 156 299 -45.7
LS460 2,696 971 189.2
Total Cars 16,755 16,157 8.0
RX350/400h 8,413 8,492 3.2
GX470 1,767 1,969 -6.5
LX470 206 341 -37.1
Total Trucks 10,386 10,802 0.2
Total Sales 27,141 26,959 4.9

The GS 430/450h is continuing its downward spiral, hopefully the new update will bring the sales up to the level of the other models.


Lexus Class Action Lawsuit over ES 350 Airbags

Lexus ES 350 Interior

According to the BusinessWire, a civil action lawsuit has been filed against Lexus/Toyota, with the claim that the ES 350’s front passenger seat fails to register occupants, meaning that in the event of a crash, the front passenger airbag would not deploy:

At issue is the ES350’s airbag system, and specifically the systems’ airbag occupant classification sensor.

“All of the defective vehicles are equipped with a weight sensor system beneath the front passenger seat,” according to the suit. “The purpose of the sensor is to gauge the weight of the person in that seat.”

When the sensor detects the presence of a passenger, the suit claims, it arms the passenger airbag. But the suit alleges the ES350’s sensors are defective and often do not detect the presence of a passenger.

Whether this is suit is justified or not remains to be seen, but should there be a problem, the lawsuit doesn’t shrink away from trying to milk it for all it’s worth:

The suit wants Lexus to re-call and re-purchase the ES350s at their full cost; wants full refunds for those people who have leased their vehicles; wants the cars re-fitted with functioning airbag systems; and also asked for compensatory damages for all costs and loss of value.

Can’t say I understand asking for money due to “loss of value” while also expecting Lexus to buy the cars back at full cost, but it’s a lawyer’s world. The entire case makes me scratch my head, if this was exactly as stated, it stands as an incredibly large problem. Wouldn’t Lexus have already recalled these vehicles if there was any indication people would lose their lives?

Curious as to Lexus’ reaction to the lawsuit, I found the following quote in The Miami Herald:

“We stand behind the design and performance of our front air-bag system,” Lexus spokesman Greg Thome said.

Time will tell, and I’ll be following this case closely as it unfolds.