With the world’s first public crash test involving two fully electric vehicles, Mercedes-Benz is going above and beyond not only the legal requirements but also those of the ratings industry. Euro NCAP stipulates a frontal impact test using a 1,400 kg trolley with an aluminium honeycomb barrier replicating the front of another vehicle. In accordance with the specifications, the test vehicle and the trolley collide with an overlap and at a speed of 50 km/h. Mercedes-Benz, however, used two real vehicles, an EQA and an EQS SUV, which are significantly heavier at around 2.2 and three tonnes respectively. In addition, both models were faster, each going 56 km/h, which meant that the overall crash energy was considerably higher than required by law. The vehicles’ extensive deformation following the collision may seem alarming to the non-expert. For the Mercedes-Benz engineers, however, it shows that the vehicles were able to effectively absorb the energy of the collision by deforming. As a result, the passenger safety cell of both electric models remained intact and the doors could still be opened. In an emergency, this would make it possible for occupants to exit the vehicle on their own or for first responders and rescue personnel to reach them. The high-voltage system in the EQA and the EQS SUV switched off automatically during the collision.
The crash test at the Group’s Technology Centre for Vehicle Safety in Sindelfingen demonstrates Mercedes‑Benz’s real-life safety philosophy: To make cars that hold up not only in defined crash test scenarios, but also in real-life accidents. The test scenario involving a speed of 56 km/h and 50 percent frontal overlap corresponds to a type of accident common on rural roads, for example during a failed overtaking manoeuvre. The speed selected for the test takes into account that, in a real-life accident, the drivers would still try to brake before the worst case of a collision.
“Safety is part of Mercedes-Benz’s DNA and one of our core commitments to all road users. And to us, protecting human lives is not a question of drive system. The recent crash test involving two fully electric vehicles demonstrates this. It proves that all our vehicles have an equally high level of safety, no matter what technology drives them. We are working hard to achieve our vision of accident-free driving, which goes beyond the “Vision Zero” objectives set by the WHO and the United Nations Regional Commissions. We don’t just want zero traffic fatalities by 2050 and a halving in the number of traffic fatalities and serious injuries by 2030 compared to 2020. Our goal by 2050 is zero accidents involving a Mercedes-Benz vehicle.”
Markus Schäfer, Member of the Board of Management of Mercedes-Benz Group AG, Chief Technology Officer
Dummy readings indicate risk of occupant injury
The EQA and the EQS SUV each carried two adult dummies – a total of three females and one male. Analysis of the up to 150 measuring points per dummy indicate a low risk of serious to fatal injury. This means that the defined crumple zones and advanced restraint systems in both vehicles offer very good protection potential for the occupants in a crash of this severity. All safety equipment, such as airbags and belt tensioners with belt force limiters, worked as intended. The crash test thus confirmed the results that the engineers had previously calculated in numerous computer simulations. Real-life vehicle testing always also serves as a final comparison with the simulations. Furthermore, the crash test clearly shows that compatibility (i.e. the interaction of the deformation structures of different vehicles involved in an accident) is part of the safety requirements for Mercedes-Benz cars.
“This crash test involving two electric vehicles, which we have shared publicly for the first time in this way, underlines our commitment to building the world’s safest vehicles. The four female and male dummies complied with the biomechanical limits in this extremely severe crash. This demonstrates our expertise in electric vehicle safety.”
Prof. Dr. Paul Dick, Head of Vehicle Safety at Mercedes-Benz AG
Female dummies in the driver’s seat
Another focus of the crash test was the type of dummy that the safety experts placed in the driver’s seat of both vehicles – the Hybrid III 5th Percentile Female, which is the female dummy currently used in the automotive industry for frontal collision tests. It corresponds to a woman of approximately 1.5 metres tall and weighing around 49 kilograms. According to the underlying statistics, only five percent of women worldwide are smaller or lighter. For many years, Mercedes-Benz has used frontal crash tests with fifth percentile female dummies in the front seat to design its protection systems for the widest possible range of customers. Ratings by consumer protection associations as well as various legal requirements worldwide now include specifications for testing with fifth percentile female dummies. Another fifth percentile female was a passenger in the EQA. In the passenger seat of the EQS SUV was a Hybrid III 50th Percentile dummy, representing a 78-kilogram male of average height.
“We have been using female dummies at Mercedes-Benz for more than 20 years. However, they are not human dolls, but measuring instruments. In designing the measuring equipment, the weight and size of the dummy genders are derived from real-life human data, with the female dummy corresponding to female anatomy.”
Dr. Hanna Paul, Head of Dummy Technology, Mercedes-Benz AG
Special high-voltage safety concept
Mercedes-Benz has developed a multi-stage high-voltage protection concept for its electric vehicles. The system has eight key elements to ensure the safety of the battery and all components with a voltage above 60 volts. Examples include separate positive and negative wiring and a self-monitoring high-voltage system that automatically switches off in the event of a serious collision. In many cases, the company’s high internal safety standards exceed the legal requirements or those of consumer protection organisations. Mercedes‑Benz has impressively demonstrated this once again with the latest crash test.
“Safety Symphony” – new campaign shows the split seconds of the crash in super slow motion
A new campaign on electric vehicle safety focuses on the groundbreaking frontal crash involving the EQA and the EQS SUV. The campaign shows the split seconds of the crash, which lasts no longer than the blink of an eye, in super slow motion. What really matters in this fraction of a second during an accident is that all safety systems work together in a coordinated manner at just the right time to protect life as best as possible. This interaction of all safety systems and concepts is like a classical symphony. Here, too, the perfect harmony of all elements creates something truly great. That’s why the new campaign film is entitled “Safety Symphony”. In an unprecedented way, it visualises artistically how the different safety systems work together as one at just the right time.
The film and numerous related assets will appear on all Mercedes-Benz social media channels later this year with the hashtag #allforsafety. The target group and channel-specific assets range from video clips and interactive quizzes to an informative documentary about the crash test of the EQA and EQS SUV.
The Technology Centre for Vehicle Safety as one of the most modern in the world
Since 2016, Mercedes-Benz has been conducting crash tests at the new Group-owned Technology Centre for Vehicle Safety in Sindelfingen. The test centre is one of the largest and most modern of its kind in the world. It has three highly flexible crash lanes leading into a large, support-free area measuring over 8,000 square metres (90 m × 90 m). Its capacity is also impressive: In Sindelfingen alone, Mercedes-Benz conducts up to 900 crash tests and 1,700 sled tests every year.
The brand with the star has over 60 years of experience with crash tests. Along with analysis by the Group’s Accident Research unit, this experience forms the basis for the real-life safety philosophy. Founded in 1969, the Accident Research unit analyses accidents involving modern Mercedes-Benz vehicles. The aim is to understand how accidents happen and which safety systems could have prevented them or reduced their severity.
 In medical statistics, a percentile is a measure of the dispersion of a statistical distribution sorted by rank or size of individual values. For example, if the size of a 12-month-old child is the 10th percentile, this means that 90% of the children of the same age and gender are larger and 10% are smaller.