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Old 15th September 2014, 12:53   #16
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Default Re: Have Manufacturers made bumpers useless?

In my opinion the sub-4m rule, absence of any consumer protection law (like the ones in US) and plain old greed of the manufacturers are what has led to bumpers becoming useless.

How else can you explain the difference in the bumper construction for the same vehicle in 2 different geographies as point out by Sankar? The Indian market is extremely price sensitive which pushes the manufacturers to skimp on essentials while manufacturing the vehicle and then use the same shoddy quality to make money in by selling spare parts.

One has to only read the the report which led to manufacturers being fined on the spare parts issue recently to understand the levels to which manufacturers stoop to recover on the margins they have lost on the original vehicle.
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Old 15th September 2014, 13:52   #17
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Default Re: Have Manufacturers made bumpers useless?

I think two different issues are being mixed here.
1. Making bumpers soft so as to get higher pedestrian safety
2. Making bumpers vanish(or so small that they offer maybe 2mm of protection.

These are two different things.
In the quest to achieve a sleek shape, modern cars now have bumpers that fit flush with the body. This is also done to squeeze in as much cabin space within 4 meters to get tax benefit.

The side effect.
If you bump something at 2kmph, you bump a body panel or headlights, rather than the bumper.

If its a rear end collision, you will bump your tail gate, or spare wheel. the bumper won't touch since it sits flush with the body in sedans, and in case of mini SUVs, its not actually a bumper. The spare wheel is the new bumper.
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Old 15th September 2014, 18:12   #18
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Default Re: Have Manufacturers made bumpers useless?

Some how I dont think it will make much difference to pedestrian safety. After all the hard metal panels are just an inch away. If the plastic is made soft and easily deformable for this reason then the pedestrian is doing to get hit by the metal bits anyway.

They could still use the same deformable plastic to make a bumper that sticks out a bit more and protects both, the petdestrian and the car.
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Old 15th September 2014, 18:44   #19
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Default Re: Have Manufacturers made bumpers useless?

Yes, the bumpers (literally) have no relevance in the current cars, they are there just for the aesthetics, aerodynamics and a marginal impact absorption. I say marginal because I have experienced it. The bumper in my i10 is just a bit thicker than a cardboard wrapped around the body, clipped at the edges and a minor bump will cause it to tear. Once a two wheeler pulled away with its footrest sticking in my wheel well - result, the bumper just tears away, from the perforated joint with the fender, making it useless.
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Old 16th September 2014, 15:12   #20
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Default Re: Have Manufacturers made bumpers useless?


I feel that its not just the vanishing act of bumper but also the metal under the skin is getting meaner and symbolic.

While we have strong reasons for having soft bumpers (pedestrian safety) and body line flushed bumper (4 mt rule) but nothing stops the manufacturers giving stronger shock absorbing impact beams or frame.
As a results its the engine or the boot which acts as the supplementary shock absorber.
I think manufacturer are not bothered about damage to the car but the required law (some of which are good, for ex- Pedestrian safety).

The more the damage greater is the sale of parts for car companies.

Are we bothered ? Yes as our car looks, performance gets affected but money wise it may be taken care by Insurance companies.
So now its up to Insurance companies to pitch in for better car design to protect Car & engine apart from Pedestrians.

Last edited by Wanderers : 16th September 2014 at 15:13.
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Old 16th September 2014, 16:01   #21
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Default Re: Have Manufacturers made bumpers useless?

I think the length of vehicle is calculated minus the bumpers (not sure). As far as bumpers use is concerned, it makes the owner of the car lighter by few thousands. The earlier cars like Premier / Ambassador had bumpers that would last as long as the car. I doubt the current cars have the bumpers that are meant for pedestrian safety and I feel it is more to do with selling of bumpers and painting them.

There are owners who fit a metal rod at the rear so as to protect the vehicle. The front guard is fitted as an accessory but it prevents the bumper from getting damaged apart from increasing the looks of the vehicle.

Vehicle manufacturer should observe this and come out with proper bumpers that last longer and just not look at beautifying the vehicle. Or they should tread a middle path where looks are not compromised and bumpers also last longer.
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Old 16th September 2014, 20:10   #22
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Default Re: Have Manufacturers made bumpers useless?

Was just browsing through the files that I have, came across these two pictures that are relevant to this discussion.

Impact of a frontal collision wrt to pedestrian (Bumper):
Have Manufacturers made bumpers useless?-bumper.jpg

Changes in bumper styling:
Have Manufacturers made bumpers useless?-bumpers-1.jpg

Looking at the image 1, a poorly designed bumper will have an impact to the pedestrians legs - low part mainly which would make that car fail in the NCAP test.

So what design I see in the current cars are mainly kept with safety in mind. Aesthetics is secondary IMO!

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Old 17th September 2014, 10:22   #23
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Default Re: Bumper covers

Originally Posted by Sankar View Post
What we call as "Bumpers" car manufacturers abroad call them as "Bumper covers" because the real bumper is the metal beam with energy absorbing deformable foam/plastic pieces on it which sits behind the plastic bumper cover.
Superb stuff sir. Thanks for the detailed explanation, wasn't aware of this at all.

Now this goes on to show how car manufacturers have been treating Indian customers off late. I understand its a highly competitive market here, but here's where the volumes are, and you definitely cannot play around with safety aspect in the name of being competitive.

I remember how a friend ended up spending Rs. 55k getting his i20 repaired after a minor head on collision with a wagon R, both cars almost at standstill.

And I am pretty sure, like me , there are many others who are completely unaware of this whole omission.
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Old 17th September 2014, 11:36   #24
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Default Re: Have Manufacturers made bumpers useless?

Food for thought topic. IMHO it's a combination of few reasons:
  1. In their effort to keep costs down, manufacturers tend to make the length of the car < 4M and while not trying to compromise on the seating space, will reduce on the 'non-essentials' (so to speak) like the bumpers - which means the boot and the rear bumper inline with the boot
  2. Absence of safety definitions from the government stating minimum criteria (in terms of bumper thickness, min length etc.) which the manufacturers use to their advantage
  3. The mango man is more concerned about the 'looks', 'utility' and 'kitna deti hai' rather than the safety aspect of cars. Since there is no huge push back from the consumers (coupled with absence of regulation) manufacturers feel they don't need to take this into consideration

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Old 17th September 2014, 12:02   #25
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Default Re: Have Manufacturers made bumpers useless?


I presume the newer laws are looking to reduce pedestrians being run over or crippled with a direct impact. Instead they would want the pedestrian to "roll over" the car.

The image you posted depicts a person hits his head directly on the metal hood or the windshield in case of an impact. Isnt that more dangerous since a good knock to the head or crashing through the glass can cause serious injury or death?

Would definitely like to learn/understand more on this subject!
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Old 17th September 2014, 14:26   #26
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Default Re: Have Manufacturers made bumpers useless?

I am just thinking aloud here, please correct me if i am wrong.

- How does the thickness of rear bumper affect pedestrian safety ? Hitting a pedestrian at high speed while reversing seems highly unlikely

- And considering the hatchbacks, isn't the thickness/ depth of the rear bumper directly impacting the passengers at the rear ?

- Hatchbacks don't even have to deal with the 4 meters constraint

I understand it will not be aesthetically pleasing to have a thick bumper sticking out only at the rear of a car with a cleaner face, but there has to be a better explanation to this than just design and proportion.
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Old 17th September 2014, 16:40   #27
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Default Re: Have Manufacturers made bumpers useless?

I don't think designers and manufacturers truly look at service aspects of the car during the development. It's probably last on their priority list! However, I also feel that even customers would not like ugly looking cars with bumpers serving their actual purpose.
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Old 17th September 2014, 17:13   #28
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Default Re: Have Manufacturers made bumpers useless?

I totally agree and especially more on seeing GTOs photo of the new City. I was recently rear-ended by a van and it's amazing how literally nothing happened to the bumper of the car! The rear bonnet was badly damaged and had to be repaired but the bumper just needed some painting. Garage fellow said that "puraane waale model mein shayad aisa nahi hota"!
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Old 17th September 2014, 17:17   #29
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Default Re: Have Manufacturers made bumpers useless?

One 1999 Zen in my family has its orginal bumpers till date. And it did got bruised many times during parking and on road but Bumpers never came down.

And in case of my Ritz, a Discover bike brushed the rear bumper from left side and it came down all the connectors were broken.

So quality is one thing that Car makers are surely compromising on, here in India.
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Old 18th September 2014, 11:27   #30
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Default Re: Have Manufacturers made bumpers useless?

Originally Posted by Styler View Post
I still can't forget the Fibreglass bumpers of my Cielo. In 15 years of my owning the car, and numerous hits, I never had to replace them, as nothing would happen to them.
Compare that to the cars of today, including my Camry 2008. A minor nudge and they get bruised. And it's not cheap to replace them either, with the paint job being the major cost.
I second that! The cielo had a very dense grid of plastic behind the outer shell of the bumper, which made it extremely strong. However, on new vehicles I have not seen any such structure.
Like the picture posted before, that seems to have been replaced by a metallic energy absorbing structure which has led to the loss of rigidity of the outer shell. Now a slight bump and the bumper warps completely!
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