Crunch for crash test­ing

New Euro­pean safety stan­dards will mean fewer five-star qual­i­fiers, writes PAUL GOVER

Herald Sun - Motoring - - News -

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.

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