OTA, Japan — Subaru's new safety technologies came in response to a very Japanese problem: Vehicle accidents involving pedestrians and seniors are more common in Japan than elsewhere.
Subaru's solutions include external pedestrian airbags, increased vehicle body rigidity, and the EyeSight emergency auto-braking system.
Subaru showed the technologies at a May 24 crash-test demonstration of the latest Subaru XV crossover, which rides on the carmaker's new global platform with its more rigid body.
Conditions in Japan shaped Subaru's safety focus. Japan's densely populated urban areas increase the risk of pedestrian accidents. And the country has one of the world's fastest-aging societies, with 27 percent of its population age 65 or above as of September, according to an estimate by Japan's internal affairs ministry. That puts a premium on auto-braking functions that counteract pedal misapplication and other driver error.
Pedestrians and cyclists accounted for 51 percent of all deaths from traffic accidents here in 2015, according to the transportation ministry. In the U.S., by contrast, deaths of pedestrians and cyclists made up only 16 percent of traffic deaths, the ministry says.
Meanwhile, older drivers take the brunt of the hit. In Japan, people 65 and older accounted for more than 54 percent of those killed in traffic accidents, according to Japan's National Policy Agency. In the U.S., they made up only 18 percent of traffic fatalities in 2015, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Subaru's safety net includes the stronger body of the new Subaru Global Platform, which debuted in the redesigned Impreza and underpins the just-released XV. The XV went on sale in Japan on May 24 and arrives in the U.S. as the Crosstrek later this year.
Meanwhile, on the active-safety side, Subaru leans on its trademark EyeSight system, which helps automatically stop the car before a crash.
Subaru models equipped with EyeSight had 84 percent fewer accidents than non-EyeSight vehicles, comparing fiscal year 2010 and fiscal year 2014, Subaru says. EyeSight-installed cars also had 49 percent fewer pedestrian accidents.