- 40 years ago: Opel Safety Vehicle masters impact speed of 65 km/h
- Kadett C designated ‘OSV 40’: impact protection, on-board warning systems, safety seats
- Astra today: ultra-modern assistance systems with camera, radar and sensors
02 OCTOBER 2014 – Rüsselsheim. “Don’t start without a seatbelt”, was the slogan of a campaign launched in Germany in 1974 to persuade drivers to wear seatbelts. Two years later, wearing seatbelts became compulsory and in 1984 fines for not wearing them were introduced. Opel has been equipping all models with seatbelts as standard since 1973 and the following year, gave a visionary outlook into the safety technology of the future.
The Opel Safety Vehicle, a close-to-production research vehicle based on the Kadett C, mastered a frontal impact of 65 km/h and paved the way for the development of further safety features. The impact speed in miles per hour (40 mph) also gave the Kadett its name: OSV 40. The current Opel Astra demonstrates the evolution since those early days. The compact car is reaping the rewards of 40 years of development and features exemplary passenger safety and ultra-modern assistance systems.
OSV 40 – Opel Safety Vehicle masters impact speed of 65 km/h
Exactly 40 years ago, the Rüsselsheim-based company showed its idea of a safe compact car at the second International Technical Conference on the Enhanced Safety of Vehicles held in London. The engineers were handed a Kadett C, presented the previous year, and could let their imagination run wild when it came to safety.
Technicians were allowed to choose the name themselves and decided on OSV or Opel Safety Vehicle. The number 40 stands for the frontal impact speed in miles per hour that the OSV 40 was designed to resist. Despite the extended safety features, the vehicle was not permitted to weigh more than 1 000 kilograms.
Impact energy absorbed by polyurethane foam
The first thing an onlooker notices is how voluminous fenders are compared to modern fenders. The OSV 40 fenders were filled with polyurethane foam which gave them their absorbing capacity. Foam-filled side members which break in a controlled fashion at impact speeds above 8 km/h were used at the front.
The foam structure absorbed enough energy that frontal impacts below this speed only resulted in a small deformation – thus the predecessor of the “self-healing” fender was created. The engineers also filled the cavities of the sills and doors with polyurethane foam in order to create increased safety reserves for a side impact.
Reinforced roof rails and backrests of the front seats that were fixed to the roof via a belt construction, increased the stability of the passenger compartment considerably – while still allowing for seat adjustment. Furthermore, the windshield made from laminated glass was glued directly to the bodywork – also with the goal of increasing body stiffness in mind.
Interior also reflects a safety approach
Inside the car, all surfaces with which the passengers could come into contact in the event of an accident were cushioned with a two-centimetre layer of polyurethane foam. The steering was fitted with an additional angled element in the lower steering column sector.
Safety also came first in the cockpit of the OSV 40. The central warning system made by Hella controlled eleven functions and showed possible errors by the associated warning lamps lighting up. Four additional lights behind the rear window signalled emergency braking and also doubled as hazard lights. Due to their high positioning, they were easy to see for following road users. A split rear view mirror enabled a perfect view with the lower part reducing the blind spot to a minimum.
The front seats were widened to create a continuous boundary to the rear compartment. The side supports, especially in the shoulder area, prevented the driver and passenger colliding in case of a side impact. The minimalistic head rests of the front seats ensured that the driver had a good view to the rear. The belt construction restraint system for the heads of passengers in the rear also ensured safety and overview. The four seats of OSV 40 all had three-point belts – the ones in the front even had an automatic seat belt tensioning system.
All crash tests passed with flying colours
The OSV 40 met all of the objectives during the crash tests: all four doors could still be opened without the help of tools after a frontal impact at 65 km/h with a solid obstacle. The front section of the car absorbed the energy so well that it was shortened by 50 cm due to the cold-drawing phase. The OSV 40 was equally impressive during a frontal collision with a pylon at 50 km/h, a rear impact, a side impact with a post, and during the rollover test at 48 km/h.
Opel Astra: state-of-the-art safety systems
The newest representative of Opel in the compact hatchback segment shows just how dynamic the development in 1974 continued. In addition to the structural strength that has come to be expected, the Opel Astra offers extensive passive safety features and a string of ultra-modern driver assistance systems which increase the safety and comfort for the drivers and passengers decisively.
Available in Europe, the second generation of the Opel Eye Front Camera is the foundation for the driver assistance systems. The engineers optimised the Lane Departure Warning and the Traffic Sign Recognition functions. The camera processes numerous levels of brightness and can even recognise dynamic LED signs. A further aid available in combination with the Opel Eye Front Camera is a distance indicator. It shows the driver the distance to a vehicle in front (in seconds).
Adaptive Cruise Control maintains distance from the vehicle ahead
Even safer and more comfortable, the radar-based Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) available in Europe helps the driver to maintain the selected speed while keeping a pre-set safety distance to the vehicle ahead. In addition to speed, the desired gap to the vehicle ahead can also be selected by the driver – with three options available: far, medium, or close. When ACC is activated, the radar constantly checks the distance up to a range of 150 metres ahead; the selected gap to the closest vehicle in the same lane is shown in the centre screen of the display.
In case the driver does not react to the audible and visual warnings by braking in a critical situation and the system calculates a potential impact, it may decelerate the car automatically in an extreme case. The Opel Astra is decelerated with help of a brake system that can look to the advantages of a latest-generation Anti-lock Braking System and an extended Electronic Stability Program (ESP Plus).
Adaptive Forward Lighting: perfect lighting for all conditions
Also available in Europe, the latest generation of safety lighting systems, Adaptive Forward Lighting (AFL+) with bi-xenon headlamps, includes a large package of intelligent lighting functions such as: High Beam Light Assistant, Dynamic Curve Light, Static Cornering Light and adaptive lighting, which reacts automatically to the prevailing driving situation such as route profile (freeway, highway, city) and visibility (sun, fog, rain) and adjusts the headlamps accordingly. The arrow-like design of the LED daytime running lamps, which come as standard, give the Astra a distinctive appearance.
Extensive package for passive safety
Even if all of the systems for the active safety reach their limits, Astra drivers can trust in an extensive passive safety package. A total of six airbags come as standard. If a situation occurs in which an airbag or a belt tensioner is activated, the hazard warning lights come on and the doors are unlocked automatically. The Astra is also fitted with the Opel-patented Pedal Release System (PRS) which decouples the pedals in the event of a frontal collision, reducing the risk of injury to feet and lower legs considerably.
Opel OSV 40: Technical data
|Length in mm||4 318|
|Width in mm||1 580|
|Height in mm||1 370|
|Front track in mm||1 330|
|Rear track in mm||1 301|
|Weight in kg||965|
|Displacement in cm3||1 196|
|Max. output in kW / at rpm||44 / 5 600|
|Max. torque in Nm / at rpm||95 / 3 400|