Nissan Motor has begun operations at its newly constructed advanced crash laboratory located at its Oppama proving ground in Yokosuka City, 30 miles (50km) southwest of Tokyo.

The 40,000 square metre, state-of-the-art laboratory will be used for testing safety performance in vehicle-to-vehicle crashes and occupant protection performance in rollover accidents.

Nissan senior vice-president Kimiyasu Nakamura said: “[The] advanced crash laboratory will go a long way to support the development of improved safety systems for [our] vehicles under our Safety Shield approach.”

So-called Safety Shield encompasses the automaker’s safety-related technologies that address both accident prevention and management. Under this approach, which was introduced in  fiscal year 2004, it believes that the driver is key to improved safety when it comes to helping to prevent an accident from occurring. Its focus is on how the company can best support the driver with technology that helps him or her avoid an accident or minimises damage in case of a crash.

The company’s other crash test facility is located in Atsugi, Kanagawa, and is used for conducting vehicle tests using rigid or movable barriers.

At NACL, tests designed to reproduce vehicle-to-vehicle crashes can be conducted over a wide range of collision angles from 85 to 185 degrees in five-degree increments, in addition to frontal collisions at 180 degrees and side collisions at 90 degrees.

Oblique-angle crashes between vehicles travelling in the same direction can also be reproduced at seven different collision angles of 5, 10, 15, 30, 45, 60 and 75 degrees.

NACL can also evaluate occupant protection performance in four types of rollover crash modes through a dolly rollover test, a trip-over test, a ditch rollover test and a corkscrew test. The tests were developed based on real-world accident analysis.

Nissan has previously adopted technologies to help achieve better compatibility such as its claimed unique high-strength ‘Zone Body’ construction. The latest version has been used since 2002 with the release of the present generation March (Micra) supermini.

The automaker has set a goal of halving the number of traffic fatalities or serious injuries involving its vehicles in Japan by 2015 compared with 1995. As of 2003, it had reduced the number of fatal and serious injuries by 22% compared with 1995.