12 sep 22

No crash for Chinese reputation in Euro NCAP

2022 is an important year for safety. Auto Emergency Braking and Intelligent Speed Assist have become mandatory on new cars since July, while Europe’s leading car safety organisation, Euro NCAP, turns 25. We have a look at the trends their testing results unveiled so far this year. There’s a record and a surprise as the icing on the birthday cake.   

The organisation has tested 24 cars so far in 2022. But while there are still some batches of cars in the parking lot awaiting the barriers, already some noteworthy conclusions have popped up:

  • Fleet best-seller Tesla Model Y is also the safest in crashworthiness.
  • The ID.5 and Qashqai show fast-pacing evolutions in highway aids.
  • The Fiat Ducato is the best-performing van in ADAS systems.
  • Chinese brands are no longer the black sheep. Quite the contrary, they excel in safety.
  • All BEVs tested have received the maximum rating of five stars.

Strong sales in a strong package

During the latest round, a Berlin-built Tesla Model Y (97% for adult protection) has broken the record of the best performing car, with all the ratings combined. In adult protection, only the Model X from 2019 fared marginally better (98% for adult protection). Still, the stronger results from child protection (87%), protection of vulnerable road users (83%) and a near-perfect score for safety aids (98%) make the best-selling BEV in European fleets this year also the safest.

The performance can be more or less copied to the genre of electric cars, which have demonstrated a more consistent track record in frontal crashworthiness compared to ICE models. Five stars have been a guarantee for BEVs hitting the wall this year. Battery-powered cars usually have sturdier noses and lack a combustion engine and benefit from a higher level of active safety.

Almost there...

Nevertheless, five stars have more or less become the norm in Euro NCAP (16 out of the 24 cars tested obtained the maximum score, see table below). But not all succeed. Models like the Opel/Vauxhall Astra and its French technical cousin, the Peugeot 308, joined by the BMW 2 Coupe, Toyota Aygo-X and Honda HR-V, obtained four stars, still regarded a good score.

And in between, both the DS 4 and Kia Niro illustrate how option politics influence the rating. In standard guise, they reap four stars, but with the safety packs added they are awarded one extra. Significantly, this limping on two legs is absent amongst BEVs, which usually have a simplified equipment policy with better safety options.

The blackjack is for the Dacia Jogger, who only managed one star, even one less than the Stepway was awarded the year before.

Walking the talk

The Asian brands, on the other hand, don’t disappoint. Apart from the Niro mentioned above, the Korean brands (Genesis and KIA) are up there harvesting top ratings. The surprise, then, came from the Ora Funky Cat and the Wey Coffee 01, two cars manufactured by Chinese Great Wall Motors, set to convince fleet customers all over Europe as sales start this fall. With the Wey scoring very high on average (3rd place) and the Ora Funky Cat joining the high riders in safety (7th place), even overclassing the Korean brands, Chinese manufacturers are walking the talk when they say that they don’t take safety on all levels for granted.

We’ve come a long way from one of the very first Chinese cars Euro NCAP tested back in 2010: the Landwind CV9. With a rating for occupant protection of barely 34% that car received two stars establishing a troublesome image for Chinese safety standards in car-making.

And then some more...

Besides barrier crashes, Euro NCAP also performs tests on highway assistance aids for passenger cars and ADAS systems for LCVs. Noteworthy is how fast technology is evolving. Where the older Jaguar i-Pace is regarded as ‘entry-level’ in supporting the driver avoiding a highway crash, the much younger VW ID.5 and Nissan Qashqai score very high, “But never promoting over-trust”, as the organisation adds.

Positive evolutions were also registered in active aids, gradually seeping into the LCV category. With a total of nineteen vans on test only one received the labelled ‘not recommended’: the Nissan Interstar. Winning that round was the upgraded Fiat Ducato scoring 88%, followed by the Ford Transit (68%) and Volkswagen Transporter (65%).

These results are a showcase of how the commercial sector is taking safety more and more seriously, albeit that these systems in rule are offered optionally. “While there is a way to go, we are inspired by the improvements”, concluded Euro NCAP secretary Michiel van Ratingen on the LCV tests.

Note that Euro NCAP isn’t in the capacity to test every fleet model on the market but makes a selection of the most popular and interesting ones. Round 6 of 2022 is expected in October.

Image: Euro NCAP

Authored by: Piet Andries