Pagani has been frequently seen in the headlines the last week over the US debut of their latest creation, the Pagani Huayra. Reports in various media last weekend suggested the Italian supercar would not be able to sell its cars in the US after the NHTSA denied an exemption request from the advanced airbag rule submitted by Pagani over three years ago. In an attempt to find out what was going on, we got in touch with Pagani and today can bring you their explanation on where they are at with the Pagani Huayra introduction in the US.
First of all they like to share that with last weeks debut the Huayra and Pagani brand received an overwhelming reception by the invited media and customers.
But to clear up the current situation we have to go back three years in time. It was than in the Summer of 2008 when Pagani petitioned NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) for a temporary exemption from the advanced or ‘smart’ airbag rule as regards the Huayra. The exemption would have covered sales for the first few years in the US. Pagani adds:
“The fundamental motivation for our exemption request concerned having to prioritize our budget (we have to remember that this was happening at the start of a period of global economic uncertainty). And keep in mind, this exemption had already been given to companies such as Bugatti, Lamborghini, Ferrari, Koenigsegg and Spyker.”
The advanced airbag regulations in the US are just a small part of car safety regulations and rules as a whole. Pagani has developed systems that go way beyond regular safety regulations and normal speed crash tests as indicated by the following indepth view on some of the extraordinary safety systems used in and developed for the Pagani Huayra:
From research and experience, we know about the dynamics of accidents in supercars, so we focused on a thorough development of the center tub in carbo-titanium, with many destructive tests to prove our designs. We developed a fuel system that behaves in a precise fashion during a crash, not only because of the position and construction of the fuel tank, but also because of the pressure management in the whole system, getting rid of high pressure instantly in the event of an impact, and thus reducing the probability of a major fuel spray in the engine bay if a fuel line were damaged. We know that this is a typical event in lateral high speed crashes. A significant investment also went into the study of how the subframes would behave in a side crash, especially the rear subframe, which in our car detaches from the carbon safety cell, dissipating kinetic energy by getting rid of over 400kg of the weight to which the occupants are attached at that moment.
Pagani Huayra test mule seen testing for AMG in Denver, Colorado last month
There are no rules that tell you how a car must behave in a 200km/h crash. Even if Germany may be the only place in the world where you can legally drive the car on the highway at these speeds, we still feel compelled to make sure that our car is as safe as possible throughout its range of performance, rather than merely as safe as required.
Obviously, the integration of the advanced airbag system is very much in our plans, and has been from the start. To prove this point, you need only to look at the hardware components that we fitted on the Huayra from the beginning, even on the European version. The airbag components, are compatible with advanced airbag management (airbag, advanced belt retainer, steering column). This shows our determination to design a car that will meet all requirements in our relative markets.
During these past three years, Pagani has been waiting for a reply from NHTSA, and they had been led to believe that by June of this year an answer finally would be available. Obviously, having a NHTSA decision prior to the key events that Pagani had planned for the US was very important. From June 2011 Pagani put utmost pressure on the NHTSA to receive an answer regarding their exemption request. As you can imagine the market introduction in the US has a large impact on the budget of a small company like Pagani. Pagani continues:
Friday the 29th of July, we received from NHTSA the denial of our petition (Five days prior to our first US event and about three years after it was requested). This news spread like wildfire. Fortunately, however, over the last months, after having not heard anything from the authorities, we sped up the development of the advanced system with a large number of simulation runs and tests.
As GTspirit reported last month Pagani’s schedule prior to the denial foresaw start of US deliveries in mid to late 2012; now Pagani cautiously says first part of 2013. Pagani finishes with:
The US market is important to Pagani and the future of our company. The Huayra project had a US market introduction as a key goal from the start. The reception we are currently experiencing in the US fully supports our vision and will fuel our determination to successfully deliver the Huayra to our customers in the United States.
To sum it up, Pagani confirms reports that a requested exemption for the advanced airbag rule has been denied by NHTSA but denies this will permanently disrupt a market introduction of the Pagani Huayra in the United States. With preparations for the implementation of an advanced airbag system done, and testing well under way a successful market introduction of the Pagani Huayra in the United States with a delay of six to nine months is still feasible. This would put the first customer Pagani Huayra on the US roads as soon as the beginning of 2013.