Evolution of Euro NCAP and
other NCAP initiatives worldwide
The “European New Car Assessment Program” (Euro NCAP) is a program for consumer protection that evaluates the safety of cars. Euro NCAP makes it possible to find out quickly and in detail about vehicle safety. This program is carried out by a consortium of European ministries of transport, automobile associations, insurers’ groups and research institutes in cooperation with various test laboratories. At present, twelve institutions from eight European countries are involved in the program. New vehicles are regularly evaluated according to their passive and active safety. The results are published.
Future Euro NCAP requirements
The test requirements for achieving the maximum point score have been changed many times over the past few years. From 2014 onwards, vehicle manufacturers in many sectors will be confronted by new requirements and will have to make additional efforts to continue to achieve top scores (5 stars). To date, the overall evaluation has been composed of four categories: adult occupant protection, child safety, pedestrian protection, driver assistance and safety support with the weightings (in percent) of 50 : 20 : 20 : 10. Now, however, this will shift in future in favor of evaluating safety systems that provide active support (20 percent). As a result, Euro NCAP is following the general trend in vehicle safety and is devoting part of the evaluation to new active systems in order to protect occupants and pedestrians.
Integrating systems for active and passive safety into a vehicle will make an increasing contribution to avoiding accidents in the future. For example, active braking and/or steering intervention can reduce collision speed and thus cut the severity of the accident. As a result, it is logical for Euro NCAP to take account of these technological developments in its evaluation. At the same time, however, the existing requirements on passive safety have been continuously revised. This concerns adult occupant protection, child safety and pedestrian protection. From 2015 onwards, the program is going to be changed significantly in these three areas, and vehicle manufacturers are already working to implement the technological consequences.
Adult occupant protection in a frontal collision
A new crash test is going to be introduced to provide a better means of evaluating the protection offered to various statures and age classes of occupant in conjunction with restraint systems. This test will be used on the first vehicles from 2015 onwards and involves a frontal collision of the vehicle with complete coverage, and a collision speed of 50 km/h, against a rigid obstacle. For the first time, not only the 50 percent dummy (approx. 80 kg) but also a (lighter) 5 percent dummy will be evaluated, the latter being placed on the rear seat bench. A second 5 percent dummy can be placed on the front passenger seat without influencing the evaluation. Alternatively, the manufacturer of the vehicle can provide measurement data from internal tests relating to the seat position of this dummy.
Adult occupant protection in a side-on collision
At present, two different tests are carried out to evaluate the level of protection offered by vehicles in side-on collisions. Firstly, the impact of a movable barrier with a deformation element and a speed of 50 km/h against the side of the vehicle is investigated. Secondly, the pole side impact collision is evaluated at a collision speed of 29 km/h. Several parameters of both tests will be changed from 2015 onwards. The movable barrier will be equipped with a new, significantly larger deformation element in future. At the same time, the barrier will be significantly heavier than before, weighing 1,300 kg. In future, the pole side impact should be at a 75 degree impact angle instead of 90 degrees at present. Here, the collision speed is increased slightly to 32 km/h. In both test variants, the 50 percent WorldSID should replace the previous dummy (ES-2). The test configuration of the pole side impact will be based on the legal requirements of Global Technical Regulation 14.
In future, new dummies will be used for evaluating child safety in frontal and side-on collisions. The P-series used up to now was replaced by the Q-series in 2013. Furthermore, the Euro NCAP consortium has decided to test other dummy sizes. Previously in the frontal and side-on collisions, the equivalent of a one-and-a-halfyear- old and three-year-old child was tested, whereas from 2016 onwards a Q-dummy in the age class of six and ten years will be evaluated. This change in dummy sizes is intended to shift the evaluation focus in future towards standard occupant-restraint systems in the vehicle. This is because the statutory requirements for child-restraint systems were significantly extended last year. Since 2013, the child seat installation in the vehicle has also been evaluated in the Euro NCAP. The objective has been defined as achieving a solution that is as simple and appropriate for the customer as possible. Consequently, the test takes account of the fact that many children are not correctly secured in cars on the road, as a result of which child-restraint systems cannot perform with full effectiveness in an accident.
In future, pedestrian protection will be evaluated with a new leg testing body, the flexible pedestrian legform impactor (Flex-PLI). The test body used previously (EEVC-Leg) has been replaced by a new design that is more true to life. Attention in the new protection criteria is directed towards improved evaluation capability of the permitted tendon extensions in the knee area. The impact speed of the test body will remain unchanged at 40 km/h. Evaluation of a frontal collision will be performed according to a selection process comprising a large number of different measuring points on the bonnet, the A-pillar and the windscreen. The manufacturer must nominate a result forecast for the measuring points. Euro NCAP tests ten of these measuring points selected at random and up to ten more points based on the manufacturer’s selection. If the deviation revealed in the test by Euro NCAP is more than 10 percent then the original result forecast by the manufacturer is corrected. In future, the leg collision will be evaluated using a comparable process.
Active supporting safety systems
Previously, only three systems were evaluated in this category: Intelligent seat-belt fastening reminders, electronic driving dynamics control systems and various configurations of speed limiters. Since 2014, autonomous emergency braking systems (AEBS) have been investigated and evaluated in two different configurations. AEB City is tested at speed ranges below 50 km/h. This involves assessing the automatic braking function before a stationary vehicle. Interurban AEB systems, on the other hand, are evaluated in scenarios in which one vehicle is driving closely behind a slower or braking vehicle in front, and the speed reduction must take place without intervention by the driver. From 2016 onwards, AEB systems are also going to be evaluated with regard to their autonomous braking effect before pedestrians. So-called AEB systems for unprotected road users are then allocated to pedestrian protection. In general, these active systems will have to be present in the vehicle – taking account of specified equipment quotas – in order to allow the maximum score of 5 stars to still be achieved in a Euro NCAP test. This means very extensive changes to the tests will have to be taken into account especially during the period from 2013 to 2016, and the entire evaluation system is based on these.
Euro NCAP is planning to extend the existing evaluation system from 2016 onwards. Previously, a car offered for sale in one of the 28 EU member states was tested and evaluated according to its basic equipment. The corresponding equipment details have to be identical in all EU member states in which the vehicle is sold. With the dual rating, it is intended for a second evaluation to be introduced in which optionally available safety systems are evaluated. At present, the purchasing power in European markets is at different levels, which means that not every vehicle manufacturer will be able to optimize each model in terms of its basic equipment to achieve the maximum point score. As a result, there is provision for evaluating a freely available safety package that can be acquired for all model and engine variants. However, the manufacturer must then demonstrate that an increasing percentage of newly registered vehicles is being equipped with this package.
Other vehicle evaluation programs
Euro NCAP is one of at present ten vehicle evaluation programs worldwide. In addition to Europe, vehicles are also tested in North and South America, China, South Korea, Japan, Australia and Malaysia, in order to provide consumer protection information. In addition, the first vehicles were evaluated in the Indian market at the end of 2013. Some programs (South America – Latin NCAP, India – Global NCAP and Malaysia – ASEAN NCAP) have only existed for a few years. The NCAP test processes and evaluation methods are not uniform worldwide, and at present there are scarcely any signs of agreement being reached on uniform test protocols. Instead of this, new processes are being introduced into the regions in question, usually without consultation with the NCAP consortia. As a result, in most cases it is not possible to compare results between countries in terms of the star evaluation. Furthermore, the rapid introduction of vehicle evaluation programs in developing countries omits to consider that these states have usually only defined a few if any legal requirements with regard to equipping‚ vehicles with occupant-protection systems. As a result, the gap between what the law specifies and what is provided in terms of consumer protection in those countries is significantly greater than in Europe or North America. Nevertheless, these evaluation programs represent a significant spur for the automotive industry worldwide. It is in the interests of all those involved to increase road safety, particularly in countries with growing individual mobility, and to reduce the number of people killed and injured on the roads everywhere.