Smart USA is defending its two-seat microcar, the fortwo, in the face of problems it experienced during a new test by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. The respected IIHS said that despite early good marks, a new crash test shows some serious problems for the microcar.
The results are certain to stimulate new debate over whether American motorists are really prepared to switch to minicars as a potential solution to future gas price hikes. The institute’s findings suggest that size really does matter.
In a May 2008 test, shortly after the first fortwo went on sale in the U.S., the IIHS gave the microcar a “top rating.” But a new test, where a Smart was crashed into the front of a Mercedes-Benz C-Class, at 40 mph, didn’t fare so well, IIHS President Adrian Lund declaring “the safety trade-offs are clear.”
However, Dave Schembri, president of Smart USA, insisted the kind of crash simulated by the insurance industry-funded institute was rare.”The test used an extremely high crash severity which is unlikely to occur in real world crashes. In fact, less than 1 percent of all crashes fall within these parameters,” Schembri said.