Are crashworthiness and fuel economy necessarily conflicting outcomes?
It has been demonstrated that larger, heavier cars generally provide more protection for their occupants, although they may be more likely to injure other road users. Smaller, lighter cars generally have better fuel economy.
Some government agencies have programs that encourage consumers to purchase safer cars as measured by crashworthiness ratings; while other government agencies encourage consumers to purchase cars with good fuel economy. Consumer may find these messages contradictory. This analysis compares the Used Car Ratings calculated by Monash University Accident Research Centre with the official fuel consumption figures published by the Australian Greenhouse Office. It demonstrates that while there is a general negative correlation between crashworthiness rating and fuel economy, there is considerable scatter about the line of best fit. Particular makes and models of cars were identified as performing well on both crashworthiness and fuel economy while other makes and models of cars were shown to perform relatively poorly. The limitations of the study relate to the use of official fuel economy figures rather than in-use values and the relative variability of the published fuel economy figures compared to crashworthiness ratings.
Nevertheless, further development of this type of approach of identifying cars that perform well on several dimensions may be useful.