Fiat car during a crash test

FCA crashes cars to protect your family

Inaugurated within the Fiat Automotive plant (Brazil), the Safety Center promotes autonomy for the Latin American region in the development of automobiles

July 17, 2019 - In the movies and on TV screens, action scenes with car collisions keep the adrenaline high within the plot. But in real life, no one wants this experience. More than that, vehicles are expected to protect the occupants to ensure a happy ending. Vehicle safety is one of the biggest concerns of those who manufacture and market cars. Thus, FCA Latam has just built a laboratory to simulate any situation of risk.

The Safety Center, located in the Fiat Automotive Plant, in the city of Betim (MG, Brazil), and officially inaugurated this July, is the most modern in Latin America. In order to provide its customers with international safety standards, the space has an area of ​​7,600 m² and a track of 130 meters, large enough to carry out impact tests of up to 4 tons at 100 km/h. The tests evaluate car structure, airbag calibration and occupant restraint systems.

Safety Center worker

Silvio Piancastelli, Concept Development manager involved in the project, explains that until then, every car created in Latin America had undergone these tests in group laboratories located in the United States and Europe. "With the Betim Safety Center, we gained autonomy and reduced the time it takes to develop automobiles", he says. Space is what was missing in the region in order for FCA Latam to be fully autonomous in car creation and development. The first model developed 100% in Latin America was the New Fiat Uno in 2008, and vehicles such as Toro, Argo and Cronos have marked this evolution. "With this laboratory, the employees of Product Engineering FCA Latam have gained tremendous knowledge", completes Silvio.

With an investment of around R$ 40 million —including infrastructure, equipment and training — and the efforts of a team of fifty professionals, the Betim Safety Center will carry out frontal, posterior and lateral impact tests against rigid barriers and posts, with international standard tests covering all approved tests for LATIN NCAP (the New Cars Assessment Program for Latin America and the Caribbean). Silvio says that the laboratory is totally interconnected to the entire product development chain, "from the concept phase, through virtual simulations, to the physical tests of development and approval, and finally the production of the new vehicle". This fits into the Industry 4.0 context, to which the FCA aligns itself, where automation and data technologies streamline processes. With the help of virtual reality for instance, the development of vehicle prototypes is precise and affordable, once a real model is produced after complex 3D tests. "The physical car undergoes tests with all the engineering background and maturity acquired in the process. With that, we have few adjustments to make", according to Silvio and adding that the product's approval requires physical testing to materialize.

Safety Center meeting

"The Safety Center further extends FCA Latam engineering tools to the development of cars that are increasingly connected to user safety", says Ricardo Dilser, FCA's technical advisor for Latin America. "It’s a local development, which gives us great pride, giving the deserved value to Brazilian engineers, technicians and collaborators. This is the last word in vehicle safety technology."

According to FCA's engineering director for Latin America, Marcio Tonani, "The Safety Center is an important achievement of FCA in Latin America, which confirms the group's leadership in the region and contributes to the improvement and greater agility in our development, maintaining internationally required levels of safety."

Words: Bárbara Caldeira

Pictures: Marketing

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