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BMW Head Protection System Sets New Standard in Side-Impact Protection in Latest IIHS Crash Test

30 October 1997

BMW Head Protection System Sets New Standard in Side-Impact Protection in Latest IIHS Crash Test

    WOODCLIFF LAKE, N.J., Oct. 30 -- Following independent tests
performed this week by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), it
was announced that BMW has taken the level of side impact protection to new
heights within the automobile industry.  The crash test consisted of a
side-impact collision of a BMW 5 Series equipped with the company's innovative
new Head Protection System (HPS) into a rigid pole at 20 mph.  This is one of
the most severe crash tests because side-impact accidents occurring at this
speed can produce head injury forces high enough to kill vehicle occupants.
The Institute's crash test results dramatically illustrate the key benefit of
the BMW Head Protection System in providing increased protection to the head
and neck of the front seat occupants in severe side-impact collisions.  BMW is
the first car company to offer a side-impact head protection system.
    This is the second time in four months that the BMW 5 Series has scored
superior ratings in IIHS crash tests.  In June, the 5 Series was distinguished
as a "Best Pick" in the Institute's frontal offset crash test for overall
crashworthiness.  Regarding the BMW 5 Series' performance, IIHS President
Brian O'Neill then stated, "If all cars performed this well, we would stop
this kind of testing."
    In commenting on Tuesday's IIHS crash test, O'Neill stated, "This new BMW
head protection system is a clear advancement.  It will save lives by
preventing head injuries in crashes, that without this system, would be
fatal."
    O'Neill further reflected on current side impact safety standards,
stating, "The test results underscore the need to modify the National Highway
Traffic Safety Administration's FMVSS 201 requirements for interior padding,
as a measure of occupant protection.  Advanced head protection systems such as
BMW's are stored in the areas where NHTSA will require padding.  The Institute
supports a proposed modification that would allow manufacturers the option of
certifying advanced safety systems with a pole crash similar to the one
conducted Tuesday."
    BMW also supports modification of FMVSS 201, currently proposed by NHTSA.
BMW appreciates and recognizes the agency's willingness to make proper
adjustments to accommodate new deployable Head Protection Systems, such as
BMW's HPS, which in the company's view offers a greater level of head
protection than could be provided under the current standard.

    CRASH TEST RESULTS:  HEAD PROTECTION SYSTEM SAVED DUMMY'S LIFE
    The principal injury measures of the side-impact crash test into a pole,
of a BMW 5 Series with and without the Head Protection System, showed that HPS
significantly reduced the likelihood of head and neck injuries resulting from
head acceleration and neck compression.
    Auto safety measures have traditionally focused on front and rear impacts,
although 50 percent of occupants in severe side-impact collisions are injured
with 43 percent of these resulting in head injuries.  Occupants are more
vulnerable to injuries in a side-impact collision because there's only a door
and a few inches of space separating them from an intruding vehicle or object.
    "BMW responded to the statistical data on head injuries in side-impact
collisions by developing the HPS offering BMW occupants safety, security and
peace of mind with the best head protection in today's automotive industry,"
stated Victor H. Doolan, president of BMW of North America.  "BMW is delighted
that the system scored so well in protecting the dummy from head injury in
this severe side-impact crash test.  We encourage other auto manufacturers to
follow suit and introduce head protection measures as well."
    BMW's Head Protection System marks the first use of an inflatable tubular
structure -- not an airbag -- as a significant element in front occupant
protection.  The tubular structure inflates within a few milliseconds of
severe side impact, and stays inflated for several seconds thereafter,
offering additional protection in case of rollover or secondary impact.
Inflated, the three-foot-long tube resembles a neck pillow, and in addition to
preventing or reducing head and neck injuries, it also has the potential to
protect front-seat occupants from being ejected.
    The BMW Head Protection System is a standard feature in the 1998 7 Series
and 5 Series models.  It will be progressively introduced in other BMW models
as part of the intelligent safety system incorporated in all BMW automobiles.

    BMW IN NORTH AMERICA
    BMW of North America, Inc. was established more than 20 years ago, at
which point the company assumed marketing and distribution responsibilities of
BMW vehicles in the U.S. from the previous private distributor.  Motorcycle
marketing and distribution was added in 1980.  Since then BMW's North American
operations have grown to include marketing, sales and financial services
organizations in the United States and Canada; a South Carolina manufacturing
operation; a design firm in California; and various other operations
throughout the U.S. and Canada.  BMW is represented in North America through a
network of more than 375 automobile and 190 motorcycle retailers in the United
States and Canada.  BMW (US) Holding Corp., the brand's North American
headquarters, is located in Woodcliff Lake, New Jersey.
    Information about BMW products is available to consumers via the World
Wide Web on the BMW homepage.  The address is: http://www.bmwusa.com .

                        BMW SAFETY INNOVATION TIMELINE

    1997  HEAD PROTECTION SYSTEM - First in the world to introduce side-impact
          head protection.  Standard equipment on all 1998 7 Series and 1998
          5 Series models.  Will progressively roll out to other models.

    1997  ALL SEASON TRACTION - Only manufacturer with traction control
          standard across the entire model line.

    1997  REAR SIDE AIRBAGS - Expands the Advanced Side Airbag Protection
          (ASAP) system offering large-area side airbags for front and rear
          passengers.  Available beginning with the 1998 7 Series models.

    1996  CODED DRIVEAWAY PROTECTION - First in the United States to offer a
          microchip-based protection system, reducing theft rates by more than
          80%.

          ADVANCED SIDE AIRBAG PROTECTION (ASAP) - Introduced large-area
          inflatable side airbags.  Standard equipment on all 5 and 7 Series
          cars and optional on all 3 Series sedans.

    1994  DUAL-THRESHOLD AIRBAGS - First in the United States to offer an
          "intelligent" safety system, the dual-threshold deployment system.
          When the safety belt is used, the airbag will not deploy at a lower
          crash severity, but only at the higher crash severity, where airbags
          are more effective.  The "intelligent" safety system also knows if
          the passenger seat is occupied; if not, its airbag will not deploy,
          saving repair and insurance costs.

    1994  ROLLOVER PROTECTION SYSTEM - Introduced a highly sophisticated
          sensing system on convertibles that automatically detects the
          possibility of a rollover and deploys two rollover bars located
          behind the headrests of the rear seats.

    1988  ANTILOCK BRAKING SYSTEM (ABS) - First motorcycle manufacturer to
          offer ABS (Antilock Braking System) on a production model - the
          K100RS.

    1987  IMPACT SENSOR - Introduced the impact sensor, which in a collision
          automatically unlocks the doors (if they have been locked with the
          interior central locking button) and turns on the four-way flashers
          and interior lights to facilitate rescue of the occupants.

    1986  ANTILOCK BRAKING SYSTEM (ABS) - First auto manufacturer in the
          United States to make ABS standard across the entire model line.

    1985  DRIVER'S FRONT AIRBAG - Introduced the driver's airbag, which in a
          severe frontal impact, inflates in less than 40 milliseconds and
          helps prevent the driver from being thrown against the steering
          wheel and dash.  The airbag is a supplement to the use of the safety
          belt, the primary restraint system in the vehicle.

SOURCE  BMW of North America, Inc.

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