Toyota Motor Corp. has unveiled plans to introduce by 2015 advanced sensor-based safety systems aimed at preventing crashes. Some of these new technologies are a new pre-collision safety system, a more advanced adaptive cruise control technology and an enhanced lane-keeping feature. The carmaker targets to install existing active-safety systems in volume vehicles by 2015.
Toyota executives, however, admitted that the Japanese carmaker is playing catch-up when it comes to certain safety features subject to increasing scrutiny like the frame protecting occupants in a crash.
The redesigned Corolla received only a "marginal" rating in the small overlap test by Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. The test simulates a crash in which the driver-side front corner of the car hits a pole or tree. The Corolla's marginal rating disqualifies the car from getting overall honors in 2014 on IIHS's safety pick list, which is widely respected by both consumers and marketers.
A vehicle has to earn an "acceptable" or "good" score on the small overlap test to qualify for either Top Safety Pick or Top Safety Pick+ status. Seigo Kuzumaki, Toyota's No. 2 safety technology officer, remarked that the carmaker is "trying to recover."
He said that from a production point of view, it "requires a drastic change" as well as time.
Other top-selling Toyota vehicles also earned poor scores on the small overlap test -- the Camry sedan, RAV4 crossover and Prius V hybrid. On the other hand, vehicles of Japanese rivals Honda, Subaru and Mitsubishi managed to earn top ratings in the test.
According to Kuzumaki, Toyota engineers plan to implement running changes to models like the RAV4 and Corolla to improve their small overlap performance before their next redesign. The changes will include strengthening A pillars and reinforcing frames.