I have just bought my very first car about six month ago. With the price of petrol soaring to RM2.70 per liter at one point almost a year back, I had my target set on a foreign car. Although it will cost twice as much compared to a local car, I thought it would be worth the price for tangible and intangible reasons. Having said that, my first set of wheels is still local made. I decided not to take the recession lightly and to not underestimate the liabilities of owning a vehicle.
To me, one of the most important reasons to opt for a more expensive foreign car is safety. Before this, I have only heard from others saying how one car looks safer compared to another. If it wasn’t because Honda has engaged me to do a research on their safety technology, I wouldn’t know that the safety aspects developed in Honda cars goes beyond its looks.
For example, Honda has been committed in researching and developing safer vehicles since they first introduced disc brakes in the early 1960s. Ever since then, they have introduced leading-edge equipment and systems that features intelligent technologies to be fitted into their vehicles. Honda’s commitment towards safety is proven when the Honda Accord has been re-accessed as one of the safest cars as reported by Euro NCAP after a new independent crash test was reported on the 27th of February 2009.
Honda’s safety technologies can be divided into three categories – active safety, pre-crash safety and passive safety. These technologies help prevent accidents from happening. At the same time, they also focus on minimizing injuries to all parties involved when an accident does happen.
Honda’s road vehicles go beyond protecting the driver and passengers riding in Honda cars and motorcycles. The designs of their vehicles are built to protect even the passengers of the other vehicle, cyclists and even pedestrians in the event of an accident. The introduction of the pedestrian injury-reduction safety body in the year 1998 is an example of such great innovations by Honda.
The Vehicle Stability Assist (VSA) system is another technology introduced by Honda together with two other technologies on the 2nd of July 1997. The VSA system is an active safety system that consists of three technologies. Two of them are existing safety systems – Anti-lock Braking System (ABS) and Traction Control System (TCS) – previously offered in Honda vehicles. The third technology in a VSA system is a Side Slip Control feature.
An example of when side slip may occur is when a driver engages a corner too quickly on a wet road. When the cornering forces of a vehicle are greater than the available tire grip levels, side slip occurs. If the front wheels are slipping sideways, the car is understeering. On the other hand, if the rear wheels are slipping sideways, the car is oversteering.
Sensors are placed around the vehicle to help detect when a side slip is occurring. These sensors include wheel speed sensors, steering angle sensor, yaw rate sensor and lateral acceleration sensor. The intelligent unit that detects and controls the VSA system to correct a side slip is the VSA-ECU component. This component detects understeers or oversteers by comparing the target yaw rate by the driver with the actual yaw rate of the vehicle.
The yaw rate used to detect understeers is calculated using the steering angle and vehicle speed variables collected from the respective sensors. When this happens, the VSA system reduces the engine torque and may even apply the brakes to the inner front wheel to correct the understeer. On the other hand, the yaw rate used to detect oversteers is calculated using the lateral acceleration, steering angle and vehicle speed variables. The VSA system applies the brakes to the outer front wheel to correct such oversteers.
In short, the VSA system helps to prevent accidents by preventing vehicles from sliding sideways caused by sudden changes in vehicle behavior or wet road. Such safety features is definitely worth the money that one has to fork out when buying a Honda.
If you need more information on Vehicle Stability Assist or other Honda safety technologies, you can always drop by Honda’s official website at www.honda.com.my/advancedtechnology for details. A few Honda Advanced Technology road shows are scheduled in the coming months across Malaysia. Do check those out as well.
Until then, drive safe and stay safe.