Crash course on car test costs
Individual crash tests don't cost as much as some Humanetics dummies, but destroying a car in a controlled environment can still be costly.
Scott Miller, Toyota Motor Corp.'s general manager of vehicle safety, said an average side-, front- or rear-impact crash test at the automaker's Saline Technical Center can involve $1 million worth of equipment and take up to seven days to set up, all for about two-tenths of a second worth of data. First there's the cost of the car that's destroyed — plus an additional $3,000 to $5,000, Miller said.
The set-up includes draining fluids, painting components, setting coordinates and running pre-tests. The end result helps track dummy injuries ranging from head trauma to how arms and legs are affected from various angles.
"It can be very stressful, but knowing you're saving somebody's life is an extra reward," Miller said. "Our families drive these vehicles, so I'm confident that they're safe."
The Saline crash test site — one of three Toyota has around the world — has conducted 700 crash simulations since opening in 2008.
The lab includes high-speed cameras that can shoot at a rate of 200,000 frames per second, high-intensity lights and dozens of computers. The test floor is about the size of two football fields.
Toyota uses about 20 crash test dummies — all from Humanetics — that range in size and age, and cost hundreds of thousands of dollars each.
"We've had a very strong relationship with them," Miller said. "It's very easy for us to work with them and use their dummies. They're very flexible and responsive to our needs."