Crunch for crash testing
New European safety standards will mean fewer five-star qualifiers, writes PAUL GOVER
THE bar for crash-test protection is about to be raised. Everything from pedestrian safety to whiplash protection is being incorporated in a new NCAP safety standard to come into effect in Europe from the start of next year.
A maximum five-star rating will still be awarded, but far fewer vehicles are likely to qualify.
The new Euro NCAP judging standard comes as Australian NCAP demands electronic stability control for any vehicle qualifying for a five-star rating, and is likely to be adopted very quickly as a global standard.
‘‘It is imperative that Euro NCAP continues to set higher benchmarks for carmakers to aspire to,’’ Euro NCAP secretary-general Michiel van Ratigen says. ‘‘Our new rating system will do this.
‘‘The new overall rating will reflect the protection offered to adult and child occupants and pedestrians and will, for the first time, consider the safety potential of advanced driver-assistance technologies such as electronic stability control.
‘‘The assessment of adult occupant protection will be expanded to include whiplash testing.’’
The new move is a U-turn by NCAP, which has always resisted combining scores for different categories of safety systems. It says the change has been triggered by poor results for pedestrian protection and the number of new safety systems being developed for cars.
Euro NCAP says the success of its crash-test program is reflected in results for four and five-star protection for adult occupants. Ninety-seven per cent of cars tested now reach a minimum four-star standard. But it believes there is more to come. ‘‘Euro NCAP is concerned that many manufacturers set out to achieve high scores for adult occupant protection to attract consumers while compromising safety investment in other areas,’’ van Ratigen says.
‘‘In comparison to these good adult occupant protection results, no manufacturer achieves a four-star result in pedestrian protection. In our tests last year, 67 per cent of models were awarded only two stars in this rating, despite approaching legislation.’’
Final details of the new system have not been announced, but the first test scores will be produced next February.
‘‘I have no doubt manufacturers will step up to the challenge, just as they did when we first started,’’ van Ratigen says.