OCCUPANT SAFETY A TOP PRIORITY FOR CHEVROLET ORLANDO DESIGN TEAM
• High strength body shell provides safety cage type protection
• Full airbag protection
• Full suite of active safety features
In the world of modern motor vehicle design occupant safety is a prime consideration. With young families prominent in the target audience of the Orlando the engineering team applied itself to ensuring the maximum level of impact protection for both driver and passengers in this exciting new addition to the Chevrolet range.
Safety manifests itself in a number of ways in a vehicle design, through the use of latest technology active and passive safety features, but also in the primary design of the vehicle, the specification of materials for its construction and the way in which it is built.
All of these have been considered in laying out the new Orlando to ensure that this is one of the safest vehicles in its class. The Chevrolet Orlando was recently rated with a 5-star European NCAP rating.
The Orlando body shell is a ‘body frame integral’ (BFI) structure with the upper body and chassis frame engineered as a single component to ensure high levels of stiffness or torsional rigidity. This not only delivers excellent handling and stability but also results in a high strength structure, especially in the upper body area. The inherent strength of the design is complimented by the use of high strength steel for 70% of the Orlando body.
The passenger compartment is reinforced in key areas, including the A and B-pillars, the cross sections that support the roof, and the lower side sills. Together these comprise the basic framework for the safety cage structure that surrounds the vehicle occupants. This structure is designed to minimise intrusion into the passenger area in the event of a frontal, side or rear impact. Crumple zones at the front and rear of the vehicle are designed to firstly absorb impact energy and then dissipate residual energy through the vehicle away from the passenger zone.
High strength steel and aluminium is utilised in key areas. The frontal zone of any vehicle is particularly vulnerable. Recognising this, the Orlando design team has adopted a strong but light aluminium crash-box for the front bumper cross member that sits in front of the engine cradle. High strength steel is used for the longitudinal rails and front sub-frame. Impact energy is absorbed by this structure and channelled along defined load paths, including a dual load path on the vehicle’s underbody, away from the passenger compartment.
The cradle that mounts the engine to within the front sub-frame incorporates energy absorption properties with structural foam integrated into this component to assist in absorbing impact energy. Attention has been given to the side structure of the body in the area of the B-pillar and the joining of this to the lower sill section and seat cross member to ensure that this is especially strong. This area is designed to distribute impact loads around the body.
At the rear of the Orlando a reinforced sub-frame is incorporated in the underbody structure to protect the fuel tank and its connections in the event of a rear end impact. The fuel tank itself is designed to withstand a reasonable impact without rupturing.
Comprehensive array of passive safety features
The Chevrolet Orlando’s extensive list of standard features includes a comprehensive array of passive safety features.
Both the LS and LT specification levels offered in South Africa are fitted with six airbags: twin front airbags for the driver and front seat passenger and side and curtain type (roof rail) airbags. The side airbags provide protection for the front seat occupants to assist in limiting injuries to the pelvis and thorax.
The curtain airbag system is mounted above the A, B and C-pillars. Each side occupies a volume of 28 litres when fully inflated and is designed to provide head and upper body protection for occupants of the first and second rows of seats. Force limiters and pre-tensioners are fitted to the front seat belts. All seven seats are fitted with head restraints to help prevent whiplash injuries.
Airbags have had a massive influence on vehicle safety and the reduction of injuries in vehicle collisions. As beneficial as they are in this life saving role the explosive force with which they need to be deployed to be effective can in itself result in minor injuries – an acceptable trade-off given the overall benefits of SRS airbag systems.
As airbag technology advances attention is being given to minimising the incidence of airbag induced injuries. In the Orlando a number of measures have been introduced for the front airbags to refine the way in which they deploy with a focus on the way in which the airbags are folded and packaged and on an optimal level rate of inflation. A de-activation switch is provided for the front passenger airbag for use when a child seat is fitted in this location. ISOFIX anchors are provided for child seats.
A Pedal Release System helps reduce the incidence or severity of injuries to the driver’s feet and lower legs in the event of a severe impact. It achieves this by collapsing in a pre-determined manner away from the driver’s side footwell.
A significant challenge often faced by emergency responders to vehicle accidents is gaining access to the vehicle to assist occupants when the doors are locked, a common occurrence in security minded societies. To avoid this scenario, the Orlando is fitted with crash sensor technology that will ensure that the door locks are de-activated automatically if an impact is detected.
A full suite of active safety features compliments the passive safety features built into the Orlando. Anti-lock Brakes System (ABS), Traction Control (TC), Electronic Brake Force Distribution (EBD), Hydraulic Brake Assist (HBA) and Electronic Stability Control (ESC) are all included in the standard specification of all Orlando models.
Together the full range of design, active and passive features provides for a high reserve of vehicle safety.
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