Toyota hasn’t caught many breaks these days amid Insurance Institute of Highway Safety crash test scores, earning a “Marginal” rating in the new small overlap front crash test with the just-redesigned 2014 Toyota Corolla earlier this month. But it’s not like the automaker isn’t trying to make amends, already going to work with making changes for its new Corolla.
Last week at an event in Japan, Toyota’s executive vice president Mitsuhisa Kato said through a translator that Toyota was already “trying to make improvements to the current Corolla.” He stressed safety is one of the greatest focuses of the company, saying that it will be a focal point of the company with its next-generation TNGA chassis components systems, which will see its first production application in 2015.
The Corolla, while very new, doesn’t use the TNGA chassis; its parts were adapted and improved from both the previous-generation Corolla and the Scion tC.
Toyota has been made aware of the IIHS small front overlap crash test since 2009. It was put into place in 2012 as an official test and is currently used as a separate evaluation measure from Top Safety Pick standards. Cars that ace the new test are rated as Top Safety Pick +. One of Toyota’s chief competitors, the 2013 Honda Civic, earned TSP+ honors after undergoing an extensive chassis revision between 2012 and 2013.
So if Toyota knew about the tests for five years, why didn’t it make the changes during the engineering process? A representative from the company said that Toyota is traditionally conservative with its practices and didn’t want to start planning for the test until it had become official, explaining why other brand-new Toyota models have seen similarly lackluster IIHS scores.
Mike Michels, Toyota’s vice president of U.S. product communications, said that Toyota was working on some fixes, but the unfortunate reality is that it could amount to as much as 100 kg of weight gains. For those keeping score at home, that’s roughly 220 pounds, putting the new, much larger Corolla in at more than 3,000 pounds with the changes. The 2013 Honda Civic put on 125 pounds when it got new structural reinforcements for its second model year.
Toyota didn’t give a timeline for when all the changes will be implemented, but we can imagine that they’ll likely be in place by the 2015 model year, if not sooner.