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"Making a safe car that is fun to drive”Improving enjoyment by adding safety

Wednesday, 23 Jan 2013


“In an age where cars are more common and people who don’t drive become the exception, it is imperative that safety issues are not overlooked. Safety testing methods are sure to evolve and in the near future we may even develop cars that can drive themselves. However, I really would feel sad if people lost the enjoyment that you can get from driving. If the focus of such advancement is limited to safety and the car is totally controlled by computer, car lovers would never feel satisfied. I believe that the second generation Leone has achieved a high level of both primary and secondary safety and I hope that this car can deliver the enjoyment of driving freely.”

Mr. Horiguchi realized that no matter how much you focus on safety, you must never forget the feeling the owner will get when driving. From now on, we hope to continue the spirit and enthusiasm of these engineers to create cars that allow the driver to experience the enjoyment of safe driving.

Extract from Cartopia Vol. 89 (Issued September 2nd 1979)

"Making a safe car that is fun to drive”The long road to safety

Wednesday, 16 Jan 2013


As the second generation Leone project got closer to completion, the experimental testing team became busier and busier performing a vast number of repeated tests and analyses in order to provide feedback data to the design team. So how many types of these repeated tests did they perform?

“In general there are three main types of crash tests. The first one is called the frontal-impact test. This involves crashing the vehicle straight-on into a fixed barrier at 50 km/h. In addition to studying the transmission of the impact through the vehicle, we also check that there is no leakage of fuel, the windshield is not pushed out, and part of the hood does not fly into the windshield. Rear collisions are tested by using a moving barrier impact test in which a moving barrier is collided with a stationary vehicle from behind at the same 50 km/h speed. We mainly check for fuel leakage in this test. Side-impact tests also use a moving barrier at a reduced speed of 32 km/h. After this test we check for fuel leakage and ensure that no objects fly into the vehicle interior. Although there is no obligation to perform it, we also carry out dynamic roll-over tests. This involves tilting the vehicle 25° to the side, placing it sideways on a moving platform, and releasing it at a speed of 50 km/h to make it roll. After it is rolled, we then check how the cabin handled the impacts and if the occupants received any damage. This test is a typical dynamic crash test, but the main static crash test involves fixing the vehicle to special equipment and rotating it like a pig on a spit in order to test static roll performance, as well as seat and seat belt mount strength. Crash test dummies are mainly used in dynamic tests and these dummies play the very important role of showing us how the human body would react when subject to the impacts during a collision. You could even say that they are very important members of our team.”

When you include vehicle interior safety tests, the total number of test becomes incredibly large. By repeating these tests over and over again we managed to provide the second generation Leone with safety that exceeded the world class level.

To be continued next week….
Extract from Cartopia Vol. 89 (Issued September 2nd 1979) 

"Making a safe car that is fun to drive”Cars that were made to be destroyed

Friday, 11 Jan 2013


Continued from last week.


Safety features deserving of the New Leone were possible through the process we’ve discussed so far. Once the engine is mounted and the suspension connected, Horiguchi’s team in charge of safety performs testing using large-scale equipment.

“When one imagines a safe car, the image of a car that has uncompromised robustness no matter how severe the accident comes to mind. However, this is not quite so. You must remember that when designing a robust cabin, it is just as important to ensure that the hood and trunk regions efficiently absorb impact energy and dissipate it before it reaches that cabin. Although we have both theoretical and numerical evidence of this, the best way to be absolutely sure is gain empirical evidence through actual crash testing. Out tests consist of inflicting a variety of impacts and flips upon the test vehicle. I am not sure just how many brand new cars we destroyed during these tests, but I feel a little sorry for all those cars that were only made to be destroyed.”

Although from the outside, most cars seem to have a uniform rigidity throughout the vehicle, in reality different parts are designed to either be rigid or to crumple in the case of an accident. This type of advanced body design is the result of years of experience combined with constant research and testing using the latest methods.

To be continued next week…
Extract from Cartopia Vol. 89 (Issued September 2nd 1979)

"Making a safe car that is fun to drive”Working in harmony with the design team

Wednesday, 2 Jan 2013


Continued from last week.

The experimental testing team takes vehicle safety very seriously. During the design process, how do they realize such thoughts and ideals?

“The second generation Leone received more requests for safety features than any other vehicle up to that point. Therefore, each department worked with their own major safety themes, and the entire project team progressed together on a foundation of safety awareness. Although it was my team’s job to test completed components and provide feedback to the various team representatives, from the initial stages, we were quite involved with the workings of the design team. As more designs were created, we calculated how much strength and impact energy absorption we could expect. Although we occasionally created actual parts for testing, ultimately we continued to work along with the design team in a close-knit and mutually-supporting relationship. This is how one-by-one, we transformed our abstract ideas on safety into real-world creations.”

From the engine to suspension and design, in order for all teams to work together and turn their dreams into creations, they need a long time and an environment where attention is paid to every detail. This becomes even more important when combined with effective safety planning goals.

To be continued next week…
Extract from Cartopia Vol. 89 (Issued September 2nd 1979)

Safety that shouldn’t be demonstrated

Wednesday, 26 Dec 2012


The last article we will show you from the period of the Leone is taken from Cartopia Vol. 89 which was published on September 2nd 1979. It is titled “Making a safe car that is fun to drive”.

This title represents exactly what Subaru has always been trying to achieve from the start of mass production until today. This article is a great chance to understand in detail exactly what issues were tackled during the development of the second generation Leone

Here we will introduce Mr. Tadao Horiguchi, a prominent member of the 3rd research section in the vehicle experimental testing department, who takes no shortcuts in the pursuit of safety. The 3rd research section is charge of three main fields. The first one is the research and testing regarding heat damage related to engine cooling, climate control, and exhaust emission control. This is followed by testing the strength of parts under regular usage conditions. The final one is research and testing of vehicle safety features.

After entering the company in 1965, Mr. Horiguchi spent his first five years working in design before transferring to the 3rd research section where he continues to work on safety features today. He is a veteran engineer who became passionate about creating safe cars through repeated crash testing during the development of the second generation Leone.

Safety that shouldn’t be demonstrated

“There are two fundamental ways of thinking about safety. The first one which we call ‘Primary safety’ involves installing systems that prevent accidents from occurring. Such systems can include warning lights that alert the driver in the case of insufficient brake fluid or a blown stop light, and when you consider cornering stability and safe driving on snow covered roads, the FF layout can also be considered to be a basic primary safety function. The other one which we call ‘Secondary safety’ involves trying to minimize the damage to occupants in the case of an accident. My team is mainly in charge of secondary safety functions. Our job as the experimental testing team mainly consists of testing to find out how strong and protecting the vehicle body is.”

Mr. Horiguchi’s team is in charge of “secondary safety” measures to protect the occupants when a collision has already happened. Next we will show what issues came up during development of the second generation Leone.

“American automotive manufacturers abide by the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS). When you realize that the impact absorbing bumpers that are not required in Japan and Europe are installed on all American vehicles, it is easy to see that they have the strictest safety measures in the world. The second generation Leone was developed using this as a model. This was because although we never wish for accidents to happen, we wanted to make a car that would ensure the safety of occupants if an accident did occur. Although there is also a recent trend toward making compact cars in America, most current vehicles are still just as large. They believe that as long as the body is large, they might as well use a large engine. Therefore, even if they add more reinforcement to the body for strength, it does not change the vehicle’s basic design. However, this is something that we just can’t do. In addition to modern energy and environmental considerations, we had too much pride as engineers to fall for such a technical short cut. No matter how good the safety is, if there is a heavy body, that results in poor fuel economy and performance, and our customers would not be happy. A car that does not please our customers is a car that I don’t want to make. It takes a lot of technical ability to create something that can please even our most demanding customers.”

By focusing on the world’s strictest FMVSS standards, Mr. Horiguchi’s team was further motivated to aim for even higher safety. Rather than just designing a car with safety features they, as engineers, thought were appropriate, they worked from the point of view of the people who would be actually riding in the car.

To be continued next week….
Extract from Cartopia Vol. 89 (Issued September 2nd 1979)

A 4WD with functional beauty

Wednesday, 19 Dec 2012


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A discussion about the FF layout - “Practical cars are beautiful”

A 4WD with functional beauty

Interviewer: Now I would like to chat a little about 4WD vehicles. Around when did you start thinking about their development?

Kageyama: This would be around when the Subaru 1000 was launched. I was impressed by the release of the 4WD sedan by Jensen Motors, who are now Subaru dealers operating out of the U.K. It gave us incredible inspiration and we were determined to follow suit. However, rather than just thinking that we could build a 4WD vehicle by merely providing power to all four wheels, we were determined to apply this functionality to each part of the vehicle.  The Subaru 1000 was an incredibly functional car and this was continued with the Leone. It was just a matter of time until we pushed on into 4WD design.

Interviewer: Is it right to say that functional beauty is a very important part of making a car?

Kageyama: Yes, you could say that. In the same manner as something like suspension bridges, right. The curve of the bridge is a beautiful parabola without waste. I believed that there was no use making a 4WD unless it had functional beauty.

Interviewer: I see. This can be seen in the 4WD power system which is beautiful even without its cover. Its beauty comes from simplicity.

Kageyama: That’s right. Although it cannot be compared with vehicles such as Jeeps as the main purpose is not off road driving, when trying to make a car with an emphasis on high speed performance that can be used for both on and off road driving, there is no other layout that could be considered.

Interviewer: It is quite rare to find four-wheel independent suspension used in 4WD vehicles and one interesting feature is that handling and stability is improved as the speed increases.

Kageyama: The main reason for this is because we have a relatively front-heavy FF layout. The wheelbase also plays a large role in this. Alec Issigonis, the designer of the Mini has always said that a heavy front end contributes a lot to handling and stability.

Interviewer: Thank you so much for taking the time out of your busy schedule for this interview.

Extract from Cartopia Vol. 83 (Issued May 1st 1979)

Practical cars are beautiful 3 

Wednesday, 12 Dec 2012


Continued from last week

Japan’s first crash testing

Interviewer: It is a little hard for us laymen to really understand what exactly a tester does but it seems like you cover a wide range of tasks.

Kageyama: That’s right. Especially in the early years when there were only a few of us, we really did all sorts of work. This extended to crash testing and we were the first Japanese manufacturer to conduct such tests. We started off by pouring 30 tons of concrete to form a giant barrier. We then needed crash test dummies but at that time they were only manufactured in America. I travelled to meet a seat belt maker in order to borrow one of the dummies that they had acquired. I loaded the dummy into the passenger seat of my car but the sight of what looked like a naked dead body in my car caused a lot of commotion on the way to the factory. When we started crash testing, everything was new to us and our inexperience showed. We studied high speed cameras, invited university professors and we somehow managed to end up with some relevant data from out tests. For comparative data we started with the K111 (Subaru 360 prototype model) and ended up crash testing all domestic models. We even went as far as to test the legendary P-1 that never made it to mass production.

Interviewer: It’s too bad you had to wreck such an iconic car! Anyway, I heard that the Subaru 1000 engine compartment structure was a bit unusual.

Kageyama: Yes, we did that to reduce weight, probably because of our roots as aircraft engineers. The front end of the Subaru 1000 got all its strength from the subframe and the hood and fender were just there to cover it.

To be continued next week…
Extract from Cartopia Vol. 83 (Issued May 1st 1979)

A discussion about the FF layout - “Practical cars are beautiful”

Wednesday, 5 Dec 2012


The successive development of the Subaru 1000

Interviewer: When talking about the FF layout, it is impossible not to mention the role of constant-velocity joints. What are your thoughts about this when looking back at the development of the Subaru 1000?

Kageyama: Of course, the history of the FF layout is entirely due to the presence of the constant-velocity joint. It was only because of this innovation that the development of vehicles with the FF layout was possible.

Interviewer: I believe that you in particular worked very hard during the development of the constant-velocity joint in order to create a world-class design.

Kageyama: Well… You can’t say that it was my very own creation. It started when we decided to go with the Barfield joint or “CVJ” constant-velocity joint as we called it, which was finally able to be manufactured in Japan to be used as an outboard joint. The main problem actually lied with an inboard joint on the engine side and we wanted a constant-velocity joint that could slide in order to absorb changes in length while rotating. However, no Japanese company was so far able to create such a joint.

Interviewer: The Morris mini used rubber in their design right?

Kageyama: That’s right. I believe it was their cross joint. I remember we actually bought one for testing in addition to researching a multitude of other combinations and possibilities. In order to reduce vibration, we tested the friction dampers used in the Subaru 360, oil dampers, butyl rubber coupling, and extremely thin axle shafts. Although all of these configurations provided interesting results, none of them satisfied the vibration requirements during high speed turning. Under such conditions, the vehicle leans to the outside of the turn causing the inside of the joint to have a larger angle and the resulting difference in speed leads to jolts. After repeated trial and error, we came to the conclusion that we must eliminate vibration from the source and started development on the DOJ “double offset” constant-velocity joint that had the freedom to be able to slide.

Interviewer: I heard that the completion of the DOJ removed the final obstacle that needed to be overcome before the impending release of the vehicle. 

Kageyama: That’s right. I felt like we finished it just in time. I remember that we worked late into the night until we finally placed the world’s first DOJ into the Subaru 1000 and did a test run. I can remember looking up at the beautiful stars and feeling a sense of awe. When the results of the test run were as we expected, I remember rushing to the office of Executive Chief Engineer Mr. Shinroku Momose where I told him “Sir! It works! It’s smoother and more stable than anything I have never seen before.”  He was thrilled to hear this news and immediately came to see the results for himself.

To be continued next week….
Extract from Cartopia Vol. 83 (Issued May 1st 1979)

Practical cars are beautiful

Wednesday, 28 Nov 2012

This week we will introduce Mr. Hayashi Kageyama who works in Subaru’s engineering group and researched the comprehensive history of 4WD vehicles around the world which was compiled into a book. The excerpt shown in this blog is an interview that was printed in Cartopia soon after the book was published.

This interview gives a rare glimpse of the real story behind vehicle development at the time and discusses functional beauty throughout modern Subaru vehicles.

A discussion about the FF layout – “Practical cars are beautiful”

Passion for cars starts at an early age 
Interviewer: We have previously featured the 4WD historical compilation book written by Mr. Kageyama in this magazine and it has turned out to be extremely popular with our readers, many of who have purchased the book themselves.

Kageyama: I am so glad to hear that. As I am the first person in Japan to compile a book on 4WD vehicles many people assume that I have a great passion for them. However, this is not quite accurate. I decided to create this book because there were no similar books on the market. I am not only interested in 4WD vehicles and I am just as fond of vehicles with FF, RR, or FR layouts. My interest even extends to motorcycles, cars, airplanes, and boats. You can say that if it moves, I am interested in it.

Interviewer: Yes, I know what you mean. So you liked machines ever since you were a kid?

Kageyama: Yeah, my father was also an engineer. We often had books about cars around the house and I repeatedly read pre-war automotive engineering books written by renowned authors such as Goro Kikuchi and Jyunji Tsukiyama. At the end of the book by Tsukiyama there was an introduction to the newly developed Volkswagen which started my love for vehicles with the RR layout. I really wanted to see the real thing.

Interviewer: So from then on, automobiles became your passion?

Kageyama: That’s right. I used to go to elementary school by bus and train. At that time buses would frequently break down as they mainly used charcoal powered vehicles . The driver would always get off the bus to burn wood or charcoal and adjust the water level. After that type of experience, I think anyone would become interested in motorcars. Another memory that is particularly vivid for me is just after the war when the American forces came to the Nagano civilian evacuation facilities. I was amazed by their Jeeps and other vehicles that I had never seen before.

Interviewer: So this increased your love of cars which eventually was the reason why you entered the automotive industry?

Kageyama: You could say that. It led me to become an active member of the automotive club at university. I felt just like a child longing to play with their favorite toy. I am blessed that I could turn my passion into a job and continue this feeling to the present.

Interviewer: Were you put in charge of testing soon after you started working at FHI?

Kageyama: I started out by working on body design for scooters. Around one year later I was moved to the testing section where I continued to work for 19 years. This was a really interesting. Vehicle testing in Japan originally started with strength testing of aircraft technology that was adopted during the war. Airplanes and automobiles are the same in that, most importantly, they cannot break. 

As vehicles becomes more structurally sound and we can accurately test their strength, then we have more room to move onto researching vibration and noise prevention to make quieter and more comfortable vehicles. Then, along with faster and faster vehicles, we can progress to tackling issues of handling and braking. The next progression is to focus on safety and exhaust emission issues. Looking back, this is just how my career in the automotive industry progressed. I almost feel like I played a part in automotive history.

To be continued next week…
Extract from Cartopia Vol. 83 (Issued May 1st 1979)