NHTSA says that the Pagani Huayra can’t be sold in the U.S.

Article by Christian Andrei, on August 5, 2011

Although a $1.1 million supercar without an airbag sounds like a joke to you, find out that it’s not and we are talking about the new Pagani Huayra. As you may know already, earlier today we told you that the new Huayra made its debut in the United States and that some customers already placed order for the new car.

Now here’s the bad news: less than a day from its debut on U.S. shores, the NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) denied Pagani’s exemption request in a Federal Register notice due to the fact that the car uses an 11-year-old air bag system.

Apparently, the cars sold in the United States need to have the so-called advanced air bags that have sensors to adjust deployment force based on occupants’ heights and weights, according to Bloomberg.

Currently, Lamborghini and Tesla are among the limited-production companies that have won exemptions over the past five years on financial-hardship grounds. Developing a new airbag system would cost Pagani 3.2 million euros ($4.5 million).

“Although Pagani has realized profits in recent years, the company asserted that immediate compliance with the advanced air-bag requirements will cause substantial economic hardship,” NHTSA said in today’s notice. “Pagani stated that the company only operates on the cash on hand without lines of credit or debt financing, and its small profit margin is necessary to guard it from market fluctuations.”

Essentially, the new Pagani Huayra features a wing as its aerodynamic concept. The attributes of this wing could be tweaked just by changing the front ride height and by adjusting the four control flaps on each corner of the Pagani Huayra. With this adjustable wing, Pagani aims to have a neutral vehicle behavior in any condition and control body roll. These flaps are influenced by a devoted control unit receiving information – about the Huayra’s speed, yaw rate, lateral acceleration, steering angle and throttle position -- from the ABS and ECU.

This system helps enhance the car’s aerodynamic efficiency in driving conditions where a low drag coefficient is not considered a determining factor. For instance, the rear flaps and the front suspension are raised during braking to counteract the weight transfer as well as to balance the weight distribution between front and rear axles – resulting to a better employment of the rear brake force.

Likewise, Pagani aimed to ensure clean airflow over the body of the Huayra, leading to the employment of two strikingly shaped engine air intakes behind the occupant shoulders. While the shape of these intakes pays tribute to the supersonic aircraft between 1950s and 1960s, they also enable motor breath with undisrupted airflow.

To allow for an outstanding airflow to the radiator without substantially affecting aerodynamic drag, Pagani located the intake for the gearbox radiator between the engine bay window and the carbon clamshell of the rear bonnet. As a result, the movable flaps replaced a supposed rear wing. Pagani also angled the radiators for more downforce and for the best outflow of hot air. Air from the central radiator is hauled out by vents on the front bonnet and is directed through the front wheelhouses.

On the other hand, air from the side radiators is directed to ducts that cool the brake discs and wheel hubs. Since this air is blown onto the brakes at around 50 degrees Celsius, it could warm the brakes up when cold, thereby significantly improving the first bite.

Since the lateral air outlets located behind the front wheels are able to generate a negative pressure inside the wheelhouse, they could efficiently extract air to lower the drag coefficient while generating downforce on the front end of the Huayra. Downforce is also generated by two high negative pressure areas designed according to the shape of the underbody and the rear diffuser.

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