Euro NCAP: 20-years of life-saving

euro ncap 20th annviersary4Euro NCAP shows why older cars may not be a safe choice, latest safety results revealed

Brussels, Belgium – The next time you buckle up before driving off, thank the stars for Euro NCAP. NCAP, which stands for New Car Assessment Programme, is an independent crash safety organisation in the business of improving automotive safety standards in Europe first established in 1997.

Itself based on the US NHTSA’s (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) pioneering NCAP program, it has also provided the template for car safety testing in other countries.  

Since 1997, Euro NCAP has helped save more than 78,000 lives, spending more than 160 million Euro in controlled crash tests of over 1,800 cars.

In celebrating its 20th anniversary, Euro NCAP has released footage of a 20th Anniversary Crash Test using two popular small family cars built twenty years apart to demonstrate, in excruciatingly clear slow motion detail, the dramatic improvement in car safety as a result of the painstaking campaigning behind Euro NCAP’s safety star rating system.

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Click on the image to watch 20 years of car safety improvements in action

A Rover 100 from the 90’s, when safety technology was much more primitive, went up against a 2017 Honda Jazz, fitted with what is today considered standard safety equipment on most cars: driver, passenger, and side protection airbags, belt reminders and electronic stability control. Advances in material selection and usage, plus crumple zone engineering, have made cars much more crash worthy as well.
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The 1990s Rover 100 after the frontal collision test: Not a pretty sight. Dummy: “Hey you gotta spare set of legs?” 

“Wherever you were sitting in the Rover 100 it was bad news. In a head-on crash at 40mph, you definitely do not walk away,” said Thatcham Research expert Matthew Avery, while the occupants of the Jazz would have escaped with mild bruising. Thatcham Research is the UK-based safety consultant which conducts some of the NCAP crash tests. The differences then and now in the comparison video (click on the image above) are chilling and have to be seen to be believed. 

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It looks more smushed than the Rover due to engineered crumple zone deformation, but the occupants of the Honda Jazz are safe and sound. 

Max Mosley, the first chairman of Euro NCAP and now chairman of Global NCAP said: “Twenty years on from what started as a controversial programme, rejected by manufacturers, and supposedly aiming for unrealistic safety standards, Euro NCAP is now firmly part of the automotive mainstream. Thousands of fatalities have been prevented, consumer demand for safety is high, manufacturers compete on safety rating results, and vehicle safety standards continue to improve.”

Not resting on its laurels, Euro NCAP tests grow ever more demanding in the quest for the safest possible cars ever, with the modern car now able to achieve a maximum five star rating instead of four. A rating that not only measures how well protected occupants and pedestrians are protected in a collision, but also on the car’s ability to prevent a crash before it happens. Modern cars now require active safety systems, such as autonomous braking, in order to achieve the top five-star rating.

In moving forward and staying ahead of the safety technology curve, Euro NCAP Secretary General Michiel van Ratingen announced, “We want to ensure that Europe’s roads get even safer in the next 20 years, not just for car occupants but for all participants in traffic. We already test many more aspects of a car’s safety than we did when we started in 1997, and that is set to continue. Next year, we will test systems that recognise and avoid crashes with cyclists, and we’re lining up a very challenging roadmap for 2020 to 2025.”

Euro NCAP has also recently revealed the latest test results for the newest crop of cars.

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BMW’s latest 5er scored top marks in the latest Euro NCAP test 

Into its seventh generation, BMW’s 5 Series continues to lead the Executive Car segment garnering the maximum five star safety rating for active and passive safety. The combination of new platform, chassis and the latest in safety features showed up good-all around performance for the 2017 5 Series in crash protection and avoidance tests.

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Ford’s Mustang had a dismal two-stars in the NCAP scoring 

Singling out the car’s autonomous braking system, Euro NCAP mentioned its effectiveness in assisting the driver in crash avoidance, or in the event one should occur with car or pedestrian. Particularly impressive was the 81 percent score for pedestrian safety achieved by the 5 Series’ “Person Warning” system and active bonnet.

Also scoring five star safety ratings in the latest tests were the Audi Q5, Land Rover Discovery, and Toyota C-HR, each demonstrating high levels of safety in all areas of crash assessment.

Citroen’s C3 received a four star rating, missing out on the maximum of five stars by a hair, on account of falling short in the area of pedestrian protection.

While most cars do well in crash tests nowadays, it’s not a given that all new cars do. The new Ford Ka+ and Fiat 500 both received three stars, mostly due to a lack of active safety systems. Tested in January 2017, the latest Ford Mustang scored a dismal two stars, with NCAP highlighting “concerns about its crash protection of adult and child occupants and a worrying lack of safety equipment commonly available on the European market.”

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Derryn Wong