Pedestrian crashes are one of the more urgent transportation problems, since if you’re a pedestrian and you’re hit by a 3,500-pound vehicle it’s not going to go well for you. Increasingly, cars have adopted automatic emergency braking systems to prevent them, but according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the BMW X1's system barely works at all.
The Honda CR-V, Subaru Forester, Toyota RAV4, and Volvo XC40 got the highest ratings in IIHS’s testing, but the X1 got “no credit.”
The X1 has a pedestrian detection system—called Daytime Pedestrian Detection—but in three scenarios the system failed to work, with the X1 plowing through crash-test dummies with minimal stopping or no stopping at all.
See for yourself:
The X1 wasn’t the only small SUV that didn’t fare great, as the Mitsubishi Outlander got a “basic” rating, as opposed to the “superior” rating for the aforementioned SUVs, and “advanced” ratings for the 2019 Chevrolet Equinox, the 2018–19 Hyundai Kona, the 2019 Kia Sportage, the 2018–19 Mazda CX-5 and the 2019 Nissan Rogue.
I asked BMW for comment, and a spokesman gave me the following:
In February 2019, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) released the results of a new test of Automatic Emergency Braking Systems in small SUVs and their effectiveness in avoiding or mitigating crashes with pedestrians. BMW was particularly disappointed with the results of the 2018 BMW X1 tested.
BMW has a long history of safety innovation, with an engineering philosophy based on three pillars: accident avoidance, passenger protection during and after a crash, and post-crash notification. The 2019 BMW X1 has a standard equipment (optional in 2018), camera based Automatic Emergency Braking System that is designed primarily to warn the driver and emergency brake to avoid a crash with another vehicle.
The 2019 BMW X1 is also able of warning the driver of a pedestrian crossing the road ahead. If the driver does not respond to the warning, the system may apply the brakes. The upper threshold for this system on the X1 is 60km/h or 37.5 mph as indicated on the vehicle speedometer. Given that BMW speedometers are calibrated conservatively and that the IIHS test was performed at exactly 37 mph, it may be that IIHS tested the system above the designed threshold.
Customers with questions may contact BMW Customer Relations at 1-800-831-1117, or email CustomerRelations@bmwusa.com.
For the record we haven’t been especially blown away by BMW’s semi-autonomous driving systems either, on cars like the new 5 Series and such. BMWs are fun, sure, but it sounds like this kind of tech needs some work.