31 Mar 2012
Euro NCAP shares vision on vehicle safety and challenges ahead

Over the last decade, the European New Car Assessment Programme, Euro NCAP, has become synonymous with crash testing and 5 stars for safety. In the same period, the total road death toll in EU-27 has been reduced by roughly a quarter, despite a significant growth in road traffic volumes. One important factor is that cars in Europe have become much safer, partly thanks to the vehicle industry’s response to initiatives such as Euro NCAP.

Created in 1997, Euro NCAP has now 12 members representing the citizens and consumers in EU-27. These include the Member States of United Kingdom, Germany, France, Sweden, The Netherlands and Luxemburg, the region of Catalonia, the International Automobile Federation FIA, motoring clubs ADAC in Germany and ACI in Italy, Consumers International and Motor Insurance Repair Research Centre Thatcham. Collectively, these members aim to provide motoring consumers with a realistic and objective assessment of the safety performance of some of the most popular cars sold in Europe.

Today, Euro NCAP is recognised internationally as one the most comprehensive and toughest safety standards around whereas when launching the very first car results, the organization had to face with criticisms and strong negative response of OEMs. In the 15 years of its existence, Euro NCAP has published ratings of over 430 different vehicles, amongst which supermini’s, family cars, roadsters, SUVs, pick-up trucks, hybrids and recently full electric vehicles. Each assessment includes three full scale crash tests, a full suite of pedestrian impact tests on the front-end of the vehicle, whiplash seat and head restraint tests, and functionality tests of Electronic Stability Control, Seat belt reminders and Speed Limiter Devices.

Traditionally, there has been much focus on the crash protection, motivating manufacturers to exceed the basic requirements in safety regulations. While this strategy has been very effective and appropriate for many years, the rapid advancement of crash avoidance technology and coming together of primary, secondary and tertiary safety have urged us to widen our scope.

In 2009, Euro NCAP introduced a new rating scheme that combined the key areas of automotive safety under one overall star rating. In 2010, the overall rating has been complemented by a new rewards scheme ‘Euro NCAP Advanced’ targeting advanced technologies and driver assistance systems, with a scientifically proven safety benefit. Through these rewards that are complementary to the star rating, we are informing consumers on the benefits of active safety. By highlighting these technologies, Euro NCAP helps industry to focus on most promising technologies to save lives.

From 2013-2015 onwards, Euro NCAP will further challenge car manufacturers by updating some protocols. Tests will include full-width frontal impact, different sizes of dummies will be used to represent more vulnerable users, child safety will be reinforced as well as pedestrian protection. The star rating will include test procedures focusing on emergency crash avoidance technologies such as Autonomous Emergency Breaking, Speed support systems and Lane Departure Warning.

Since the launch of Euro NCAP, we have seen major improvements in structural performance and restraint design. Nowadays, many safety features are standard across new models and what is more, a good rating has become a must for selling cars in Europe. Euro NCAP will continue to further challenge automotive industry, will stay in touch with meaningful safety innovations and reach out more and more consumers. In Europe as a whole, road causalities are on a constant decline but we are still far away from the target of zero fatalities.

Safer vehicles – besides safer roads and safer drivers – remains one of the three priorities by which further progress can be made. Euro NCAP intends to remain Europe’s number one car safety advocate, with the support of members that have driven the organisation over the last decade.

For more details, please contact Marie Brasseur, Euro NCAP Communications Manager: marie_brasseur@euroncap.com