Honda Motor Co. will modify 12,000 redesigned 2015 Fits already in possession of customers in the United States after a mid-model-year engineering change that allowed the subcompact to improve its score on Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s small overlap frontal crash test. In March, Fit received a “marginal” score on the test, prompting Honda’s engineers to adjust the welding process for the front bumper beam behind the subcompact's front fascia to make it more crashworthy.
Honda then requested another small overlap test, which was conducted in July. This time, the subcompact earned an “acceptable” rating. Honda implemented the production change on June 9, which means thousands of 2015 Fits initially built at Honda’s new assembly site in Mexico on and after April 11 do not feature the enhanced front bumper.
The rating also allowed the Fit to earn a 2014 Top Safety Pick rating from the IIHS as it already received the top rating in the institute’s four other crash tests. The institute’s small overlap test entails having 25 percent of the driver’s side front end strike a solid barrier at 40 mph -- similar to when a vehicle strikes a pole, tree or other vehicle.
According to IIHS, such crashes account for around a quarter of all injuries and deaths as result of frontal crashes. Chuck Thomas, Honda’s chief engineer of vehicle safety, remarked that Honda targeted a top safety pick in the subcompact segment, adding that they weren’t satisfied “with not achieving that.”
He said Honda worked hard to make the structure of the vehicle more robust. Honda's actions highlight how far carmakers are willing to go to improve safety ratings.
In the first test, IIHS said the Fit’s bumper beam -- a steel bar located behind the plastic bumper cover -- broke free of the frame rail on the passenger side early in the crash. It said that the impact resulted to more crash energy to be absorbed by the driver side of the car.