New energy absorbing plastic fronts for SUVs and vans which could save lives and reduce serious injuries have been unveiled by a Midland manufacturer.
Wolverhampton-based Concept Mouldings is taking out patents on the technology, exhibited at this year's British International Motorshow.
The device, called Endura, has been developed by Concept over ten years.
The company, which employs 50 people and has annual sales of £4 million, hopes it can sell the system to automotive makers to fit line-side on production models and also into the after-market.
Ian Finney, managing director of Concept, said; "There has been a lot of adverse publicity about metal bull-bars, and lots of people thought they were too dangerous.
"We were approached by Land Rover, which was concerned about the issue, and began developing soft touch nudge bars.
"These would have the same properties as bull bars, offering the same protection to the vehicle and allow people to nudge open gates.
"Over the years we have worked with Land Rover too as they have launched new models, and improved our technology.
"We started to think more about energy distribution in the nudge bars, which eventually led to the Endura."
The company took metal out of the product while maintaining the strength and look of bull-bars which many motorists like to personalise and protect their vehicles.
"People still wanted strength, but we have made it much more pedestrian friendly. It has been quite a complex process, but we have managed it. This new system is vastly safer than conventional bull-bars and safer than if there was nothing on the front of a car at all."
The new frontal protection system works by absorbing energy and protecting pedestrians from hard parts at the front of vehicles such as the bonnet leading edge, radiator and engine.
More than 900 UK and 12,000 European pedestrians and cyclists are killed every year and more than 9,000 and 290,000 respectively are seriously injured, according to latest statistics produced by the UK's Transport Research Laboratory (TRL).
Testing of Concept's revolutionary new plastic frontal protection system has been carried out at MIRA.
Trials showed the frontal protection system reduced the risk of head injuries from over 99 per cent in the worst case down to less than two per cent a nd also substantially reduced the potential for injuries to the upper leg, abdomen and pelvis.
Head injuries from the fronts of vehicles are typically incurred by children and these often prove to be fatal.
The makers of large 4 x 4s are already working hard to improve the safety of their vehicles with the likelihood of new EU legislation which demands safer vehicle fronts being phased in after 2012.
Mr Finney, said: "One of the most exciting aspects of our results is that because our products can be fitted as an after-market product by owners of vehicles we can start saving lives and serious injuries now rather than waiting for a long term legislative process.
"The benefits are also likely to continue as vehicle design improves. For example, the results of testing our product on current vehicles are even better than on vehicles produced ten years ago."
The company now has taken out patents on its innovation.
"We went to the Motorways to try to get over the stigma which has attached itself to the bull-bar," said Mr Finney.
"For 15 years people have been told it is all bad. This system will offer a consumer benefit, if you run someone over you will have the ability to save someone's life."