Mercedes-Benz Vans is increasing the safety of its star-branded vans even further with the aid of in-house accident research. This is the result of an interim evaluation of the activities carried out by a team of specialists over a period of one-and-a-half years. The Van Accident Research unit was reorganized in the summer of 2015. The unit now has its headquarters at Daimler AG’s Untertürkheim plant. Here the engineers examine selected accidents in which Mercedes-Benz vans have been involved. The results are fed directly back into vehicle development, thus helping to make Mercedes-Benz vans even safer.
The analysis of actual accidents is particularly useful for the specialists, as they reveal many more possible configurations compared with the parameters specified by the safety tests conducted for vehicle research and approval. For example, the accident researchers are able to identify whether the airbags were deployed as intended. In addition, there are also important pointers toward which vehicle components can be designed with even greater safety in mind.
“Research focusing on vans has been around as early as the 1970s. However, the different areas were previously assigned to other divisions. Now we have everything under one roof,” explained Vera Hertler, development engineer involved in setting up the Van Accident Research unit.
Pioneer of van safety technology
Vehicle safety plays a key role for Mercedes-Benz Vans. Most of the current safety and assistance systems in the van market celebrated their world premieres in Mercedes-Benz vehicles. Most recently new standards have been set with collision prevention assist, blind spot assist, highbeam assist, the anticipatory occupant protection system Pre-Safe, Attention Assist and Adaptive ESP (electronic stability control) with Trailer Stability Assist.
Whether it be the Sprinter, Vito or Citan, panel van or Mixto, chassis or crewbus, all offer an exemplary, high level of basic safety with numerous safety features included as standard. In addition, every customer is able to increase the safety level of their van with a whole host of safety and assistance technology tailored to their vehicle’s area of application.
For development engineer Hertler and her team, a key element of their research is talking to the vehicle occupants. “We experience first-hand just how important the work we do here is. Often we talk to people who, thanks to the safety technology, have emerged from serious accidents in good shape, and based on their experience immediately order their next van from Mercedes-Benz,” she added.
As the research procedure involves surveying both the vehicle involved in the accident and the accident location, the Van Accident Research unit has access to a Mercedes-Benz Vito Mixto, offering plenty of space for all the necessary equipment. The load compartment, which is separated from the seat rows by a partition, accommodates everything needed to analyze accidents, from a measuring wheel and safety vests through to a camera and clinometer. If it is necessary to travel by plane to specific cases, the shelving components can be removed as ready-packed tool kits and stacked together for checking in as flight luggage. As part of the “Mercedes-Benz Vans goes global” strategy, future it is planned in the future to extend the analysis work of the accident researchers to vehicle and model variants in other markets – for example to right-hand drive vehicles or models on the North American market.