Tests grow more strict

PUBLISHED : Friday, 10 August, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 15 August, 2012, 11:15pm


The European New Car Assessment Programme's (NCAP) safety ratings are frequently referred to in Hong Kong car showrooms, but marques are finding crash tests are getting more harsh.

This year, the Brussels-based safety organisation has raised its pass marks for a five-star rating to an overall score of at least 80 per cent, with higher pass marks in four key criteria: adult protection, child protection, pedestrian protection and safety assist.

Tougher tests mean safer cars, particularly in pedestrian protection, 'where the average five-star car barely exceeded the 25 per cent limit just a few years back', says the body, which tests vehicles in six European countries.

In 2014, the Euro NCAP's tests will be more demanding, with evaluations of Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB) systems, which the safety body says 'can reduce accidents by up to 27 per cent'. These facilities use radar and video systems to watch the road and can help motorists avoid or reduce the severity of crashes by first alerting the driver of a potential danger - and then either assisting or independently applying the vehicle's brakes.

Testers hope the inclusion of AEB systems in its ratings will 'alert' consumers to seek this technology, and 'encourage' marques to fit it. However, it is still 'completely unavailable on 79 per cent' of cars sold in Europe and 66 per cent of manufacturers 'do not offer an AEB system on any of their new car models', the safety body says.

Even so, Audi received the Euro NCAP Advanced award in May for the 'Pre Sense front plus' radar technology in the A6, which achieved five stars last year. Volvo, Infiniti and Mercedes-Benz also 'have the best levels of standard AEB fitment', Euro NCAP adds, with Jaguar, Range Rover and Lexus offering options.

The system is also available on higher-volume cars such as the Mazda CX-5, Ford Focus, Honda Civic, Fiat Panda and the VW up!, and the technology is expected to be fitted in the facelifts for the Mercedes-Benz A-Class, Ford Fiesta and Ford Kuga.

'A faster penetration of these technologies into new cars will make it more realistic for the European Union to reach its target to cut road deaths by 50 per cent by 2020,' says Euro NCAP secretary general Michiel van Ratingen.

'Consequently, Euro NCAP hopes that European authorities will soon require AEB as mandatory on all new vehicle types.'

Such demands could soon be echoed in Gloucester Road's showrooms.