Don't Be a Crash Test Dummy!


Don't Be a Crash Test Dummy!

NHTSA has significantly changed its 5-Star Safety ratings system.... I can hear you guys already, "Not that important. What do I really need to know to sell a car?" Read on. Toyota Camry, perennial top-selling family sedan in the U.S. just went down from a 5-Star front and side crash rating to a 3-Star rating. Did I catch your attention yet?

Despite all the talk about electrics and other alternative fuel vehicles, safety remains firmly at the top of the list for consumers when considering one model over another. Conversely, "green" consideration has actually slipped. Also, keep in mind that women, an increasing (and highly coveted) influence on purchases, consider safety at a 50% GREATER rate than men. Starting to think your folks should be aware of where your new car line stands versus the competition?

While we struggle looking for an advantage against our competition, NHTSA may have just given you, or taken away, a big bullet point.

It would seem that NHTSA had many reasons to revise their criteria this model year. They have been under scrutiny and pressure with 2010 being the worst year for recalls in decades, important vehicle technological safety changes and issues of driver distraction with mobile communication. Fact of the matter is little has changed in their rating system since its inception in the late 70s, until now. Though it is considered a revision, in reality, it's more of a full overhaul.

As more new models are being reviewed under this system, NHTSA intends to be very proactive in promoting the new system and ratings right into the showroom. They asked Edmunds.com to help disseminate this information. Showroom point-of-sale materials are available below. To download materials, click on the PDF icon.


All of the information regarding these changes can be seen at SaferCar.gov, however, we've decided to highlight some points here that can make a difference in the showroom.

As always, if you're going to enter into a sales conversation regarding a specific topic it's good to have a little background. Not long after NHTSA started the system, changes were already on the way. Along with the crackdown on blatant drinking and driving in the 80s, anti-lock brakes and the extra high-level rear brake lights began thinning out the herd of towing companies and body shops. Subsequent years saw design innovation in vehicle crumple zones and tires that made cars safer. Time marched on with the introduction of airbags. These systems have also become more sophisticated over the years and I now find it hard to remember the last car I had WITHOUT airbags!

Fast forward to today with safety design and technology evolving at breakneck speed, no pun intended. So here they come:

  • Factory audio and navigation systems are being equipped with innovative systems that make handsfree operation of the vehicle in tune or "sync" with mobile communications gadgets. Bluetooth® is easier to integrate and audio systems with handsfree technology are in more and more vehicles.
  • Electronic Stability Control (ESC) and Traction Control have evolved out of the high-end sport cars and into SUVs and family sedans due to the fact that benefits to safety had begun to outweigh benefits to performance.
  • Lane Departure Warning (LDW) system senses lane lines and markers, then warns drivers when the vehicle is veering off. Mercedes Benz recently took this to the next level by introducing "Active Lane Keeping Assist" that will react instantly if it senses an extremely hazardous situation.
  • Forward Collision Warning (FCW) uses similar technology seen in rear parking alert systems. This system warns of impending collisions based on the speed of the vehicle and distance to the next vehicle in front of it.
  • Blind Spot Detection system is like another set of eyes built into the side view mirrors and warns of lane changing with vehicles hiding in the "Blind Spot".

There have also been positive changes made to safety belt systems and head restrains that will help reduce injury to driver and passengers in most collision scenarios.

With advancements in GPS technologies, on board cameras, radar, headlamps, and night vision capabilities you can expect much more to come. Being well versed in these technologies and how they apply in a sales situation will give you an advantage on the sales floor.

In this market we need all the edge we can get! Be sure to review the materials being distributed by NHTSA and herein. I promise you-CUSTOMERS WILL!!! Additional materials available below.

Good selling!

John Giamalvo

John Giamalvo, Director, Strategic Marketing
DealerInsight@edmunds.com

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