Euro NCAP (European New Car Assessment Programme) is an organization dedicated to car safety performance assessment to help buyers choose the safest car on the market.
Even though governments across the world have regulations regarding crash safety, they are not as stringent as what Euro NCAP follows.
Let us look into some of the features of the Euro NCAP Testing of vehicles.
How does Euro NCAP choose which cars to test and how are they sourced?
With the number of cars available on the market, it is not possible to test each and every variant. The most popular models are chosen for the test. As for the variant, the fastest moving one is chosen.
These cars are sourced from the dealers anonymously. If they are testing a car that is not available to the dealers yet, they randomly select cars from the production line. These tests are so detailed that Euro NCAP requires a total of 4 cars for a complete assessment.
This causes the tests to be unbiased and prevents from manufacturers making changes to one off models that will effect the test results.
The Euro NCAP members are obligated to sponsor at least one car model every year.
How are the cars graded?
With the quickly increasing standards in terms of safety, the Euro NCAP updated their scoring scheme in 2009 and the same is being followed.
Pre 2009, Euro NCAP released 3 ratings per car, i.e., Adult, Child and Pedestrian Protection. The manufacturers concentration revolved around the adult occupant protection. This lead to neglect in the areas of child occupant protection, pedestrian safety, whiplash, active safety systems etc. Hence the new system of assessment devised in 2009 encouraged manufacturers to give it an holistic approach rather than focus on adult occupant protection that was being used as a marketing tool to sell volumes.
They new system calculates a score based on Adult Protection, Child Protection, Pedestrian Projection and safety assessment systems.
The overall score is calculated by comparing the four individual scores with respect to each other and it is made sure that no single area is underachieving.
Depending on the on board safety systems, an additional score is provided for features such as seat-belt reminders, speed limiters, Electronic Stability control etc.
Adult Protection involves a front & side impact test, the pole test which mimics a crash into a tree or lamp pole and a whiplash test to check protection against spinal injuries.
Child Protection checks the design of the car seat and instructions provided by the manufacturer so that the user installs the child seat correctly.
Pedestrian Protection asses the car design and if it is able to minimize head and leg injuries for adult and child pedestrians.
The new rating system, Safety Assist, rewards active safety systems, i.e., systems that help avoid a crash in the first place or to minimize the effect of the crash. These include stability control systems, seat belt reminders and speed limiting devices. This may include any other radical new safety systems developed and installed by the manufacturer.
What are the various Tests that the cars undergo?
Autonomous Emergency Braking
Euro NCAP tests the automatic breaking system in various scenarios such as city and inter urban driving conditions. Even within this, various scenarios that are regularly faced are emulated.
This is the most frequent of road crash. The vehicle is driven into a fixed deform-able barrier at 64kmph at an offset. Data is then collected from the crash test dummies. The things that are assessed are the car’s structural safety, and how effective systems like the seat belts and airbags are.
Car to Car side impact
After the frontal collision test, the side impact takes the place of the 2nd most important test. Euro NCAP simulates this type of crash by having a ‘mobile deform-able barrier’ hit the driver’s door at 50kmph. The intrusion into the side is checked and this test has driven manufacturers to fit side airbags on most cars.
Pole Side impact
The test car is propelled sideways at 30kmph into a rigid pole which sees a major penetration into the side of the car. Cars with curtain airbags which will prevent the drivers head from passing through the window fare well in this crash.
A low speed rear end crash are the most common reason for whiplash. The car seats are checked for anti-whiplash properties and upto what extend they reduce the effect of the rear impact.
This test is performed alongside the front and side impact tests dummies representing 1½ and 3 year old children are placed in the rear of the car in the type of child restraint recommended by the car maker. The overall child protection score is determined by the child seat dynamic performance and the instructions for the child seats, airbag warning labels, and the car’s ability to accommodate the child restraints safely.
Various tests involving adult and child pedestrians accidents are replicated at 40kmph. Instead of using full body dummies, specific body parts such as the head and legs are used and they are hit to certain sections of the cars. The deformation on the vehicle body and the dissipation of the energy is checked.
Electronic Stability Control
ESC is an active safety system that prevents the crash happening in the first place. The new rules at euro NCAP state that a 5 start safety rating will not be provided unless 85% models sold in its range are fitted with this system.
Were any Indian Cars tested by the Euro NCAP?
Yes! You won’t be happy to hear, but they didn’t fare well in the tests. The benchmark for safety in India is set so low that Indian manufacturers show no obligation to increase the safety standard of domestic cars.
The cars that were tested include the TATA Nano, The Maruti Suzuki Alto 800, Hyundai i10, Ford Figo and Volkswagen Polo.All these cars were Indian made models and were selected at random from dealers and shipped to the NCAP testing facility as per standard Euro NCAP protocol.
Some of these models when sold abroad feature airbags and other safety systems but as the sold in India models do not feature them, they didn’t sell so well. The Volkswagen Polo variant with two airbags was a saving grace and awarded 4/5 stars and 3/5 starts for Adult & Child Safety Respectively. All other cars in the test were awarded 0 stars.