IMPORTANT NEWS: National Electric Vehicle Sweden has agreed to buy the assets of Saab Automobile and the sale is expected to be finalized during the summer.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Det finns inga älgar i Japan

It is a well known fact that the Swedish car manufacturers Saab and Volvo have been the only manufacturers to have carried out crash tests with elk/moose. Reason being that the woods of the Nordic countries are crowded with elk. A report from 2005 suggested that there were 100,000 elk in Norway, 250,000-300,000 in Sweden and 113,000- 125,000 in Finland.

Nordic elk, weighs from 300 kg to 700 kg and can be more than two meters tall

In Sweden alone there are more than 7,000 collisions each year between car and elk and a number of these end up with human injury. Since the elk has a big and heavy body and long legs, it can be very dangerous to hit one. When hitting the elk with the front of the car at a high speed, the elk's legs will fold and the body will hit the windshield and the front of the roof construction. Just imagine how much damage 700 kg can do when hitting the windshield at 80 km/h!

Now the Swedish insurance company Folksam has examined collisons between elk and car and written a report.

The Folksam examination has looked at all collisons between elk and car which have been reported to the company between 1995 and 2010. In addition to this material, the company has looked at in depth studies carried out by the Swedish Transport Administration (Trafikverket) on fatal accidents, as well as carried out 5 crash tests with a crash test dummy elk on different car models.

Folksam found that when the speed exceeds 80 km/h, cars have trouble withstanding a collison with an elk. Even though the forces of the crash is relatively minor, the body of the elk will often deform the cars windshield and roof severely and lead to human injury. The car manufacturers therefore needs to work hard on reducing the speed of the vehicles by developing good auto brake systems and improve the construction of the roof of the car.

The most critical situation is when the roof is teared open or pushed down or when the elk enters the cabin of the car. 90 per cent of the people who were severely injured or killed were driving on roads with speed limits 80 km/h or higher. The share of people injuries was 14 per cent higher for people travelling in small cars compared to those travelling in large cars.

But now finally let's get to the point of all this: In cars from Volvo and Saab the injured people had less risk of severe injury compared to people in other car brands and comparable sized models. The risk of getting severely injured was actually 25 lower in a Volvo or Saab than in other brands and comparable sized cars.

Percentage of people with injury, who have a high * risk of medical disability

Saab and Volvo

57 %

Audi, BMW, Mercedes Benz and Opel

69 %

Toyota, Nissan, Mitsubishi, Honda and Mazda

75 %

Other brands

71 %

All not Swedish made

72 %

 * At least 8% risk of disability

From the table above we can read that Saab is noticeable better than the German cars and a lot better than the Japanese cars.

Folksam also examined if there were any coherence between a high score in the Euro NCAP test (4 or 5 stars) and the car's ability to protects its passengers when hitting an elk. No coherence could be found. But there was a difference between Swedish made cars and other cars of similar size. A find that indicates that Saab and Volvo have developed a roof construction that reduce the risk of deformation.

Saab performing elk crash test on a Saab 900

Conclusion: The myth lives on. If you worry about crashing with large animals, then buy Swedish!

Or to say it like an old Swedish slogan: Det finns inga älgar i Japan!  (There are no elks in Japan).