Monday, December 30, 2013

Hyundai and Kia crash and burn on IIHS's new safety tests

Despite a rocky start in the mid-1980s, Hyundai has risen the ranks from being an affordable but clunky and unreliable econo-box to some of the most affordable, reliable, and even stylish cars of today. The Hyundai Genesis was even chosen as the 2009 Car of the Year, and Hyundai was clearly on the must-see list of new car buyers. Hyundai's sister automaker, Kia, followed a similar path.

But now we get news (see here in the Chosun Ilbo) that Korea's top-two automakers are about to be side-tracked. You see, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has come up with new safety tests — specifically a test that determines injury to the driver and damage to the car when the driver's side corner at the front of the car hits an immobile object at 40 mph (64 kph).

I chose this artwork, but I think this was a lot more than 40 mph. 

The result is that Hyundai and Kia can no longer claim "good" overall ratings (the highest of the four) for their vehicles, and that could hurt impressions and sales. To be fair, only 22 of the 180 new 2014 models tested got the good rating, but most other car brands are not as tainted by past bad reputations as Hyundai and Kia are.

Hopefully the poor showing in the new safety test results will be an impetus (as it has in the past) for Hyundai and Kia to improve. In fact, according to the linked article, they Hyundai they will be working to improve performance on the new tests starting with the Genesis.

And while I have faith that they will rise to the ranks of Toyota and Honda again, it would be nice if Hyundai and Kia could strive to be more like Volvo, where they are leaders in automobile safety rather than followers who need to catch up from time to time.

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