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FOR RELEASE: 2006-07-25

Safety The Priority For Commodore Development

Holden designs for active and passive safety in real world conditions

Safety has been built into every aspect of the all-new Holden Commodore range, helping drivers to better avoid crashes and providing better protection in the event of an accident.

Real world crash situations were considered at every phase of design, development and testing to ensure the 2006 Commodore range was the safest yet.

Major safety engineering programs delivered a stiffer body structure, improved occupant protection and the vastly increased use of advanced strength steels.

Exclusive vehicles from the world’s top brands were used to benchmark safety technologies, packaging and performance in various types of impacts.

Body structure design complemented passive safety technology such as the acclaimed crash avoidance system, Electronic Stability Program (ESP®), which is standard on all VE sedans.

It also provided for front, side and curtain airbag systems to be offered as standard or optional on all VE models.

Given the extensive safety advancement and technology available on VE, engineers believed an overall mass gain compared with the previous generation Commodore was a worthy balance.

Holden crashworthiness specialist engineer, Kerry Dick, said Holden undertook a huge amount of work on the VE crash structure to protect drivers and passengers.

“Safety was a major concern every step of the way,” Dick said.

“Significant crash performance objectives drove the design to meet offset frontal, full frontal, rear and side impact requirements.

“We designed clearly defined load paths to manage crash energy while maintaining interior space for drivers and passengers.

“The stiffer structure delivers ride refinement and an overall sense of safety while driving.”

All models can be purchased with six airbags, with the combination of driver and passenger front and side airbags and curtain airbags available as standard or optional, depending on model.

The curtain airbag extends from the top of the windscreen pillar to the rear pillar, deploying through the headlining to protect occupants in the zone between belt line and roof line.

Holden has installed a new multiple point sensing system with two front and two side sensors to determine whether airbags should be activated.

Dick said Holden had tested for an extensive range of crash situations and occupant criteria, rather than restrict itself to meeting the requirements of one specific test or jurisdiction.

Holden ran more than 5000 barrier tests using virtual technology, a regime which would have taken more than five years to replicate with real tests.

Test occupants were represented from a six month old baby to a 95th percentile adult. Almost 80 physical tests were administered to correlate virtual outcomes.

“We’ve put a lot of work into tuning the front and rear of the vehicle, with structurally optimised crush zones to absorb crash energy,” Dick said.

Holden Director Integration and Experimental, Ian Butler, said VE mass had been influenced by safety features and design, new content and performance improvements.

Butler said Holden took into account new technologies, a stiffer body structure and improved safety outcomes in its new generation design.

“We accepted some gains and made significant investment in new technologies to limit the increase,” Butler said.

“As an example, we saved more than 30 kilograms through aluminium front and rear impact beams, a composite spare wheel tub, tailor-welded blanks and dissipative acoustic packages.”

The main areas of mass-related product improvement and their clear rationale were -


  • Main contributors: larger, more complex front rails, increased B-pillar, rocker size
  • Main benefits: crash performance, increased stiffness for better isolation and comfort and improved durability


  • Main contributors: larger brakes, wheels and tyres, advanced suspension designs, double-isolated differential, stiffer chassis structural members, standard features such as ESP
  • Main benefits: brake performance, steering feel, class-leading ride and handling

Electrical system

  • Main contributors: all-new audio system, rear located battery, wiring harness
  • Main benefits: audio performance and integration, weight distribution, processing integration

“VE Commodore remains very competitive on overall mass, particularly for its size and rear wheel drive configuration,” Butler said.

“We were not prepared to make concessions with this car and believe we have achieved an excellent mix.”



  • Ultra-stiff body structures, multiple load path strategy, structurally optimised front and rear deformation zones
  • Greatly expanded use of advanced strength steels

Crash avoidance

  • Electronic Stability Program standard on all models
  • ESP incorporates Anti-lock Braking System (ABS), Electronic Brakeforce Distribution (EBD), Electronic Brake Assist (EBA) and Traction Control System (TCS).


  • Multiple point sensing system - two front and two side sensors
  • Dual-stage front airbags for driver, front passenger - standard on all models
  • Side impact airbags available on all models - optional on Omega, standard on other models
  • Curtain airbags available on all models - standard on SS V, Calais and Calais V; optional on Omega, Berlina, SV6 and SS

Driver protection

  • Ride-down steering column
  • Breakaway pedal system helps to reduce lower leg injuries in frontal impact


  • Active front head restraints – standard on Calais and Calais V, optional in safety pack on Omega
  • Front seatbelts with load limiters and pyrotechnic pre-tensioners – standard on all models

ESP is a registered trademark of Daimler Chrysler AG

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