The star rating awarded by Euro NCAP has become, on its own merits, a sufficient measure to be able to assess the safety of the vehicles that are put up for sale on the European continent. Who is responsible for this assessment, and what tests are carried out to obtain it?
Euro NCAP stands for European New Car Testing Program, an initiative launched in 1996 by the UK Department for Transport. It is an independent non-profit association funded by the FIA (International Automobile Federation) and countries such as France, Sweden, Germany, or Luxembourg. Also, different consumer organisations are members of this consortium and large automobile clubs such as the RACC.
The history of Euro NCAP
Euro NCAP was founded in 1996 to establish a standardized program to measure the safety of vehicles for sale in the European Union. A year later, the first crash results of several models were published, showing the weaknesses and areas for improving each of them to promote safety improvement to reduce the accident rate.
The first tests were done selecting some of the most popular utility vehicles on the European market, and they were quite disappointing. The maximum score was four stars, and none of the tested cars managed to reach it; in fact, the Rover 100 barely achieved one of the coveted stars, which caused a year later, it stopped being sold due to the safety problems detected.
Current rating system and methodology of Euro NCAP
This program divides the models it analyses according to the segment to which they belong and their weight in intervals of 150 kg. Thus, for example, the BMW 3 Series saloon appears in the same classification as the compact BMW 1 Series due to its closeness in weight. In contrast, the Audi A4, for example, shares the category with direct rivals such as the Mercedes C-Class or the Volvo S60.
According to its criteria, its tests’ ultimate objective is to evaluate the level of protection that a specific model offers its occupants. In four blocks: adult protection, pedestrian protection, analysis of the driving aid systems, and children’s protection.
1. Protection of adults:
Five different tests are carried out, which award a maximum total of 36 points.
- Frontal collision: 40% of the front surface of the car hits a deformable barrier at 64 km/h. It seeks to measure the consequences of the impact on the head, thorax, hips, legs, and feet of dummies -test dolls-, and a maximum of 16 points is awarded.
- Whiplash: The seats are removed from the vehicle and placed on a platform, with which a substantial impact on the rear of the car is simulated to assess the behaviour of the head restraints. Thus, a maximum of 4 points is awarded.
- Side collision with a vehicle: A mobile deformable barrier 1.5 meters wide is impacted against the car at 50 km/h. Damages to the head, thorax, abdomen, and hip are studied until 8 points are awarded.
- Side collision with a pole: In this case, the vehicle is placed on a mobile platform that launches it at 28 km/h against a 254 mm wide bar and hits the driver’s door. Thus, the same damages are evaluated in the previous case to award a maximum of 8 points.
- Knee damage: Euro NCAP may reduce the previous score if, in any of the earlier tests, the test dummy suffers an injury to the knees when the key cylinder or the knob for adjusting the steering wheel’s height and depth hits them, for example. Models equipped with a knee airbag are less penalized in these tests.
2. Driving assistance systems:
Three security elements are taken into account.
- Presence of a standard speed limiter: If you drive it, the car gets an extra point, while if the system only warns that the driver’s speed limit has been exceeded, half a point is added.
- Seat belt warning witnesses: The presence of at least three witnesses is analyzed: driver, passenger, and rear seats. Thus, one point is awarded for each one, up to a maximum of three.
- Stability control: The vehicle is subjected to an evasive manoeuvre in which it changes lanes twice at 80 km/h. The ESP must ensure that the car moves laterally at least 1.83 meters, without the yaw index – the distance that the rear axle skids – is greater than the values set by Euro NCAP.
3. Pedestrian protection:
There are two accidents, one to an adult and the other to a child, both at 40 km/h. Thus, the legs’ impact against the bumper, the pelvis’s effect against the edge of the hood, the effect of the head of a child in the centre of the hood, and the crown of an adult’s head against the area are analyzed from the windshield. In total, a total of 36 points are awarded through these tests.
You may like this: The Highly Anticipated ADAS – Advanced Driver Assistance Systems
4. Protection of children:
Two dummies are placed in the rear seats in child seats recommended by the manufacturer to check the probability of impacting against the interior of the car and the effectiveness of the restraint system—all this, with a maximum score of 50 points.
How, then, are the well-known stars obtained? Extrapolating the percentage of the score obtained in each of the categories for its total – for example, if a model achieves 18 points in a class out of a maximum of 36, it would have obtained 50% -. Some scales transfer these percentages to stars: for example, to receive 5 stars, it would be necessary to receive 80% in the Adults category, 75% in Children, 60% in Pedestrians, and another 60% in Security Systems. In all cases, the lowest score of the four sections is taken: if a model obtains five stars in three of the sections, but only four in one, its overall evaluation will be four stars.
For more details check out the Official website of Euro NCAP.