Sometimes, if a company ends up getting sued it’s its own blasted fault for failing to make a good product. That could be the case if Kia Spectra crashes start piling up.
The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety (home website here is a private organization funded by auto insurers that tests new and redesigned vehicles for crashworthiness. The IIHS tests are different than the ones that the National Highway Transportation Safety Authority (the agency within the US Department of Transportation) performs and have different rating systems primarily derived from the theoretical injury that the crash test dummy sustains in the IIHS test. IIHS ratings are Good, Acceptable, Marginal (in other words, barely meeting the test to keep the occupant safe) and Poor (read: car occupant will sustain injury in crash).
The most well-known IIHS test is the frontal offset crash test — which examines how the occupants fare in a frontal collision when the car is at an angle to the obstacle it crashes against. It is regarded as better than the NHTSA frontal crash test because when a car crashes frontally, it won’t usually be a nose-to-nose collision, instead the drivers will swerve right (somewhat) into their proper lane of traffic. The IIHS test is also conducted at a higher speed than the NHTSA test.
The Kia Spectra failed. For the first time in three years, a small car received a Poor rating on the frontal offset crash test. What makes the failure shocking is that car manufacturers know how the IIHS tests and should be able to build the cars to ensure minimal damage to the dummy.
Kia currently stands by its product, according to the story above, but the IIHS test is usually regarded as a gold standard. If Kia does not go back to the drawing board and remediate the Spectra’s problems, it should know that a litigation flood will follow, and its settlement costs will skyrocket.