Categories: News

Euro NCAP crash tests: will they disappear?

Has the protocol for obtaining the five Euro NCAP stars become too complicated to satisfy? If manufacturers generally take advantage of the existence of this independent body, behind the scenes, the fed up begins to be felt.

MEven if no one dares to skimp on security, it nevertheless has a price. And if the five stars generate too much cost for a manufacturer – and therefore for the end customer – that’s a problem. Tomorrow, some may even choose to give up stars to contain their rates. This choice, some manufacturers have already made it for a long time for their smaller models. Dacia has also done so for its entire range, which receives two stars at best. Does this hinder its success? Not really. Especially since its cars are not inherently dangerous, but they are less well equipped than the others with electronic driving aids. Because, today, the fifth star (and the others also depending on the case) is not only obtained thanks to the resistance of the car to shocks, but also thanks to the points distributed according to its level of equipment. This is precisely what is starting to get stuck in some people.

“It is the acceptance and therefore the use of the devices [de sécurité actuels, NDLR] which will make it possible to reduce the risk of accidents, and not to increase their number again and again”indicates the direction of the communication of Renault, questioned on the subject. “Pedagogical work is essential. Renault will be offering new systems for this very soon. ” In other words, the Diamond would seem to appreciate that the protocol allowing to reach the five stars ceases to be enriched, and that one finds ways to make good use of the existing one without adding costs. An opinion that Toyota seems to share: “ Safety has always been an element important part of our development goal and as such we have made our vehicles safer and safer over the generations”, comments on the European management of the Japanese giant. “However, we always have to strike the right balance between style and cost. This balance must follow the evolution of the cost of the technology, but the affordability and accessibility then remain essential in this perspective. ” So much for the visible face of the iceberg. Because in “off”, many manufacturers are worried about the increase in expenditure generated by the enrichment of the Euro NCAP rules. We have collected several converging testimonies on the fact that electrification, the Euro 7 and Euro NCAP anti-pollution standards, which have changed protocol five times in seven years (between 2013 and 2020), are causing budgets to explode. Thus, the question of going to spend crazy sums to obtain the last point allowing to have the five stars arises more and more. Several manufacturers look at how they could do without a star and explain why to their customers, so that they can form an opinion. This choice is crucial because, ultimately, the car will be cheaper. The Dacia Jogger, which lost a star because it had no seat belt locking indicator in the third row, although it also exists in five places, is one example among others.

What is Euro NCAP?

The Euro NCAP (European New Car Assessment Program) or, in French, the European Program for the Assessment of New Vehicles is an organization created in 1997. It was born from the association of the Swedish National Transport Administration, the International Automobile Federation (FIA) and the International Consumer Research & Testing, a non-profit research center which has in its direction the French Jérôme Franck, general manager of the UFC-Que Choisir.

Today its headquarters are in Brussels, several governments have joined its program (each funds at least one crash test per year), as does the European Commission, which has an observer seat there. Euro NCAP’s main mission is to carry out crash tests to assess the safety of cars, but it is also a powerful, very political body, the results of which can be used for commercial purposes. However, it is not mandatory. Each manufacturer can decide – or not – to have a crash test carried out by Euro NCAP. A crash test of which each brand nevertheless knows the result in advance, since it generally has a device for crashing its cars.

But the Euro NCAP brings credibility through its independence.

The best students are…

Of the 80 cars ‘crashed’ in 2021 and 2022, 66 got five stars. The Dacias were content with one or two stars, the Renault Zoe zero, the Hondas and some BMW fours. Among the five stars, we find all the cars of the Volkswagen group (even the small Seat Arona), but also Asian ones and particularly Chinese brands, for which the Euro NCAP is not only a compulsory passage, but also a guarantee of credibility. . As for the other brands, we see that in 2022 no model has obtained less than four stars. There is still one thing to remember: not one of the Stellantis models presented since 2020 (Fiat 500 e, Opel Astra, Peugeot 308, 408, Citroën C 5 X) has won five stars, but only four. We sent a series of questions to the group’s management to try to understand why. After relaunch, we received a somewhat dry email: “I am sorry to tell you that this is a subject on which we do not express ourselves. ” A sign that Stellantis should not be comfortable with this poor performance. But what if he was right? Choose not to give in to the Euro NCAP siren song and make cars at the right price? Obviously, the Germans do not hear it that way, but others are thinking about it, or even have already taken action without saying so.

EURONCAP

Attentive customers… in another way

Admittedly, customers do not spontaneously ask the dealership for the number of stars obtained by a car, but rather question the safety equipment supplied as standard. Which amounts to the same thing because, without these functionalities, now for the most part imposed either by European regulations or by Euro NCAP, there would be no stars. Moreover, according to the brands, the five stars remain a selling point. “ Faced with the proliferation of driving aids, passive and active safety elements, obtaining five stars is an element that is understandable for the general public, easy to put forward and to argue for our sales forces.says Gerrit Heimberg, the director of Volkswagen France. In a competitive universe where all models can no longer claim this maximum rating, having mass market vehicles like the Polo, Golf, Taigo or the ID family display five stars is a solid argument. It is also a differentiating element when dealing with key account customers or in the context of calls for tenders which may have very specific specifications on the subject. of security. ” This “fleet” vision, which eludes private individuals – and French brands? -, also seems to be important among Asians. “Security is essential for customers and for certain specific groups such as fleet customers, says a Toyota Europe management representative. Star rating is part of their requirements. ” In other words, the Euro NCAP fully plays its role as a commercial asset in the calls for tenders of large companies.

Finally, as almost everyone receives four or five stars, naturally comes the question of the need for a sixth star. On the builder side, the responses range from “ It is not up to us to answer ” at ‘We will do our best regardless of the rule’. On the other hand, obviously for the Euro NCAP the question does not arise: our email has remained a dead letter.

Conclusion

Euro NCAP has played a very important role in the safety of our cars over the past twenty years. Its rules have prompted manufacturers to develop safety devices that we would certainly never have had without such constraints. But it seems that we are coming to the end of a cycle with the arrival of electric cars, ever-increasing security costs, and the protocol slider that goes ever further. It could therefore be that the number of cars receiving five stars will be on a downward trend in the future, only because manufacturers will choose to skip certain elements deemed too expensive regardless of whether they earn them additional points. .

Why the Renault Zoe got ‘zero stars’ at the end of 2021

Of all the cars tested in 2021 and 2022, the only one not having collected the slightest star is the last Zoe.

Why such a penalty?

Quite simply because the Renault that was “crashed” was a 2019 version, which is none other than the restyled livery of the 2013 model… but with less of a head airbag! However, nine years ago, the same car had obtained the five stars! The reason ? If the Zoe is not more dangerous than in 2013, but the test protocol, which has been modernized five times in the same period of time, leaves it no chance. And it’s not over, since the organization has announced a small revolution by 2030. The rating chapters will no longer be the same, the autonomous driving systems will be put to the test, and the electric ones will have to prove that their batteries are perfectly “safe” in the event of a fire.

EURONCAP

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